An image of a gravestone showing "Omegle 2009-2023" in reference to the site's shutdown in November 2023.

Omegle Shutdown

Part of a series on Omegle. [View Related Entries]

Updated Nov 09, 2023 at 05:07PM EST by Zach.

Added Nov 08, 2023 at 09:35PM EST by Aidan Walker.

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Overview

Omegle Shutdown refers to the closure of the video-chatting platform and site Omegle, which connected strangers around the world with each other in anonymous conversations, on the evening of November 8th, 2023. That day, a letter was posted by its founder Leif K-Brooks explaining the reasoning, which he said came after a series of legal challenges, many of them having to do with predators using Omegle to allegedly groom children or expose themselves to other users. After the sudden shutdown of Omegle, word spread online as discourse, memes and other posts appeared on social media over the following days.

Background

Omegle was founded in 2009 and quickly gained prominence as a place for strangers to meet online. Originally the site only included text-based chatting, introducing its video chat feature in 2010. During its 14-year run, many memes and viral pranks, such as Omegle Rizz took place on the site.

However, the site was also used for less wholesome purposes, causing it to be somewhat controversial over the years. Since 2009, Omegle has faced various lawsuits, many of them involving minors who had been randomly matched and entered into video chats with nefarious adults.[2]

One high-profile case involved an 11-year-old girl who met a man on Omegle who then proceeded to groom and manipulate her for the next four years.[3] The site was found to be possibly liable in this case since it did not have age verification or other protections in place.



2023 Shutdown and Final Letter

On November 8th, 2023, Omegle's founder and owner Leif K-Brooks posted an image of a gravestone signifying Omegle's death (seen below) and a letter detailing his view of the situation and reasons for ending the site, which appeared on the homepage of Omegle along with no other content.[1]


Somegle 2009-2023 "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis "In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." — Douglas Adams

In the post, he argued against a fear-driven approach to content moderation and social media governance, writing:

Virtually every tool can be used for good or for evil, and that is especially true of communication tools, due to their innate flexibility. The telephone can be used to wish your grandmother “happy birthday”, but it can also be used to call in a bomb threat. There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes.

Also in the letter, K-Brooks notably wrote about the increased regulation of internet platforms at the time (such as the Digital Services Act that has been pioneered in Europe), plausibly alluding to the trend of enshittification, the process by which platforms become progressively less able to serve their users and instead serve the interests of investors.

The battle for Omegle has been lost, but the war against the Internet rages on. Virtually every online communication service has been subject to the same kinds of attack as Omegle; and while some of them are much larger companies with much greater resources, they all have their breaking point somewhere. I worry that, unless the tide turns soon, the Internet I fell in love with may cease to exist, and in its place, we will have something closer to a souped-up version of TV – focused largely on passive consumption, with much less opportunity for active participation and genuine human connection.

Online Reactions

Following its closure on November 8th, 2023, many users across the internet shared their positive experiences with Omegle and nostalgia for the service. For example, X / Twitter user @T_llulah shared a classic Omegle video in which a man is insulted by a child (seen below), earning over 18,000 likes in less than a day.[6]


That same day, Omegle Rizz creator slowish shared an RIP video for the site to TikTok, earning over 3.6 million views and almost 700,000 likes in less than a day (seen below, left).[7] Other Omegle creators, like TikToker calamari shrimp, who earned over 600,000 views and 73,000 likes for their November 9th video (seen below, right), shared their despair as well.[8]


https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7299265400842243371
https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7299257257777302827

Others online, however, shared moments when they'd encountered creepy people on Omegle. For example, on November 8th, X user @mattxiv shared a story about talking to a 35-year-old man as a teenager (seen below, top), earning over 10,000 likes in under 24 hours.[4] Also that day, X user @squirtstain talked about using Omegle at a sleepover, a commonly shared Gen Z experience, and received over 600 likes in less than 24 hours (seen below, bottom).[5]


matt @mattxiv. 13h rip omegle, thoughts and prayers to all the 35 year old men i talked to when i was 14 44 749 10K il₁239K 口

alisa @squirtstain rip omegle i'll never forget the sleepover where the creepy guy asked me to step out of the frame so he could see my friend better 8:45 PM Nov 8, 2023 22.8K Views 13 . CI 11 605 12 Follow 소


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Top Comments

Can of Beans
Can of Beans

RIP Omegle. I spent a number of late nights in my teens chatting to people about dumb bullshit. Saw a lot of dudes jerking off on there, but that was part of the charm. Omegle's end is yet another blow to free and open peer to peer digital communication.

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