From SI410
Jump to: navigation, search
Omegle website [1]
Type Online chat, voice chat, video chat
Launch Date March 25, 2009
Status active
Product Line Omegle
Platform Web

Omegle is a free online chat website that allows strangers from around the world to converse with each other. The site was launched in 2009 by programmer Leif K-Brooks, who was 18 years old at the time.[1] Omegle's tagline is "Talk to Strangers!" Within its first week, it had over 1800 users and has grown to over 30 million users to date.[2] Omegle's website is accessible through computers, phones, and tablets. The site does not require user registration. Its home page outlines that users must be older than 18 years of age or 13 years with parental permission.
When it first launched Omegle only offered a text chat option, but with its increasing popularity video chat became available on the site as well. Over time, the site has added new options, such as "spy mode" and a "college student chat."
Although Omegle was initially started as a way to have meaningful connections with people around the world, it quickly gained a reputation for concerns related to nudity, pornography, and privacy. Many reports of crimes related to sexual assault of minors and distribution of child pornography have stemmed from interactions that started on Omegle.


Leif K-Brooks, founder of Omegle

Omegle was created on March 25, 2009 by 18-year-old Leif K-Brooks, an aspiring computer science major at the University of Vermont.[1] [3] The name “Omegle” is based off of the phrase “error code omega," and the website was originally built in Python using the Twisted framework and ran on one server. [4] K-Brooks developed the idea of Omegle to create a space where people could safely interact with those outside of their usual social groups. [4] K-Brooks has not spoken to media outlets explicitly about himself or Omegle. However in 2010, K-Brooks revealed himself as the creator of Omegle on a Reddit thread and allowed Reddit users to ask him questions about the site. [4]

After the creation of the website, K-Brooks proceeded to create a mobile application to allow users to access Omegle from their phones. K-Brooks developed the app himself in Objective-C. [4] Today, the official app can no longer be found in app stores, but the website itself is suited to be used on mobile devices. Many unofficial versions of the app can still be downloaded.

In February 2020, Omegle garnered about 30 million site visits, with almost 35% of its users coming from the United States. [2] Most of Omegle's traffic comes from direct searches to the website. Users who come to Omegle from other websites are usually referred from other chat websites and pornography websites.[2]


User can choose to text or video chat

There are many different ways to use Omegle. Users have the ability to choose to text chat or video chat with one other random person. Users are randomly paired together based on shared subjects of interest that they input into the site. [5] Users do not have to register to be able to use Omegle.


User can enter spy mode

Using the "text" mode, they can be matched up with another person randomly, or use another option called spy mode. In spy mode, a third person observer poses a question to the two paired users, and the two users will discuss their thoughts on the question. The third person observes the conversation, but cannot join in.


User can choose between adult and unmoderated modes

If a user decides to use the "video" version, they can either participate in a moderated (default) video chat, an adult video chat, or an unmoderated video chat. To be able to participate in the adult or unmoderated chats, the user has to confirm that they are of 18 years of age or older. The confirmation process is a question that asks the users whether or not they are 18 years of age or older, and requires no documentation or other proof. [6]The adult version comes with a warning that the user will be viewing sexual material, while the unmoderated version brings up a warning that the user is more likely to encounter sexual material because of its unmoderated nature.


User can add interests

To be matched with someone who has similar interests, the user can opt to add some of their interests before they choose which chat version they will use. Omegle will then attempt to match the user with another person who has the same interests.

If the user is in college, they also have the ability to participate in the college student chat. The user can enter their college email address ending in .edu or .edu.XX or .ac.XX. Once the user confirms their email address through an email Omegle sends them, Omegle will then match the user up with another random college student. The user's match will only be able to see the domain of the email address, not the user's entire address.

Crime Involvement

Omegle has been involved in many crime news stories, most of which are related to child pornography and sexual assault of minors. The homepage of Omegle states that "predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be safe." [5]

Child Pornography

  • In January 2017, former school custodian Douglas Mehan, was arrested for finding and uploading child pornography on Omegle.[7]
  • In September 2017, Adam Junghans, a 25-year-old man was arrested for collecting sexually explicit pictures of minors on Omegle.[8]
  • In November 2019, Juan Carlos Ramon, a 34-year-old man was arrested for requesting pornographic images from underage girls for several years on Omegle.[9]
  • In January 2020, Andre Esparra, a 29-year-old man was arrested for receiving nine images of child pornography on Omegle and saving them for "later use."[10]

Sexual Assault and Kidnapping

  • In November 2014, Casey Lee Chinn, a 23-year-old man, was charged with 6 felony charges: two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of kidnapping, and two counts of solicitation of a child to engage in sexual conduct against two 13-year-old girls he met on Omegle. After a month of communicating on other social apps, the girls agreed to be picked up by Chinn who proceeded to take them to his house and sexually assault them.[11]
  • In December 2018, Robert Alexander Kusma, a 33-year-old man was arrested for sexual assault of a minor he met on Omegle.
  • In March 2019, Simeon Isaiah Crispin Steers-Smith, a 30-year-old man was arrested for soliciting a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl he met on Omegle.[12]
  • In August 2019, Adrian Gardiner, a 40-year-old man, was arrested for meeting with a 12-year-old girl he met on Omegle and engaging in sexual activities.[13]

Other Criminal Involvement

  • In August 2020, Eddie Royal was charged after "allegedly exposing himself to 15 year-old" during Omegle videochats and faces a fine of up to $10,000, 6 years in prison, or both. [14]
  • A concerned mother in South Florida reported her 13 year-old son's use of the Omegle site after he logged on and discovered the users he connected with were exposing themselves and/or masterbating. [15]
  • Omegle has received inceasing news coverage and media attention for its potential and confirmed use as a tool for grooming of children. Other commonly cited platforms are Snapchat and kik. [16]

Ethical Issues

Privacy and Security

Privacy Policy

Omegle is advertised as a completely anonymous chat site, however it is possible for a user to have their identity compromised. Omegle’s privacy policy states that records of text chats are stored for approximately 120 days.[17] These records include a timestamp, IP address, ID cookie, and similar information.[17] Webcam images can also be captured from video chats and be stored in Omegle's servers.[17] The storage of these records pose a vulnerability to the site. Indrajeet Bhuyan, a young cyber researcher, was able to figure out how Omegle saved its chats and the specific location these records were in its server.[18] Using a Python script, he was able to retrieve screenshots of the chats. If a malicious person were to have these records and these chats included personal identifying information, a user’s privacy could be compromised.[18]

Additionally, because Omegle's privacy policy states that the typical storage for these dates is 120, they do technically have the right to keep anything they want for however long they want. [6] After every Omegle text chat, users are given the option to save their chat and share link of the chat with their friends. Once a user decides to save a chat, a record of the chat is sent to Omegle's server and is stored for an indefinite amount of time. This is another vulnerability as users may have have been under the assumption that they were only sharing their information with one person, but could instead be sharing it with hundreds of people. It is also possible that users can screenshot text chats and video chats, or even use a third-party software to record the conversation.

Location Tracing

Because Omegle keeps track of IP address and other location-verifying information, hacking tools and tactics have developed to track down users. While originally created to track down perpetrators who have inappropriately used the platform and allow victims to pursue legal action, the ability to track locations is raising other issues. Users intent on finding children or others for sexual trafficking purposes have gained access to these platforms or hacks, and are able to track the locations of their targets. These tools are easily accessible and can be learned on Youtube or executed via the Google Chrome extension 'Omegle IP locator.' [19]

Additionally, Omegle's stores these chats under URLs, not on separate and/or private servers. Because of this Omegle states that it is possible to find any chatlog record by correctly guessing the URL, which is particularly important for older chatlogs that have shorter URLs. [6]

Automated Bots

Omegle’s site is plagued by numerous chat bots. These bots are created by users to simulate conversation with other users of the site. [18] There are even articles detailing the steps required to construct an Omegle chat bot. These bots spam advertisement links to users and can potentially introduce malware into a user’s device.

Inappropriate Content

Although Omegle moderates its chats, it is impossible to avoid users from discussing and streaming sexually explicit content since the website does not require registration. Omegle even has a warning on its homepage that a user “may still encounter people who misbehave” and that “they are solely responsible for their own behavior.”[20] Even though the website was launched over 10 years ago, parents still express concerns about the content children are viewing on Omegle.[21] CEO of the Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County, Jaqueline Stephens, says, "When you look at the website, one of the first things it says is talk to strangers, and that's the thing we're always telling kids not to do."[22]

Predatory behavior is known to be a threat on Omegle, and police across the country have even used the site to track down child predators.[21] One reporter even logged onto the site pretending to be a 16-year-old boy, and he was sent explicit pictures and messages within minutes.[23] Omegle establishes that their users must be 18 years or older to participate in the “adult” and “unmoderated” video chats, but the site has no way of knowing whether a user is truly of age. Children who use Omegle without a complete understanding of the risks can be coerced into engaging in inappropriate behavior, as evidenced by the numerous arrests that have been made since the site was launched.[22]

Omegle is aware of the actions that take place on their site. Omegle's settings offer adult and unmoderated options and gives warnings that users may see or will see explicit content given the settings that they choose.

Parental Concerns

Parents have expressed concern over the use of Omegle among minors for the criminal and inappropriate activities states above. Many articles have been published warning parents of the use of Omegle. Some parenting blogs state that "Minors should not use Omegle. There is no practical way to protect them when talking to strangers or prevent their exposure to content and experiences that could be inappropriate for their age or level of maturity. Parents should take extreme caution when deciding if their kids should use this app. They should teach children to not reveal personal information or meet with strangers from the app and use parental control to monitor their activity in the app." [5] Concerns include exposure to nudity, masterbation, and other explicit content, location tracing, kidnapping, sex trafficking, and grooming. These concerns are raised by parents because of Omegle's no-registration policy that allows minors to easily bypass age requirements. Parents argue that it is unreasonable to expect minors to know better and that the burden should lay more heavily on Omegle. [16]

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 All Tech Buzz: Omegle Video Chat Website Review
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Similar Web: Omegle Website Analytics
  3. Forbes: Leif K-Brooks
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Reddit: I made AMA
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Popov, C. (n.d.). What parents need to know about Omegle. Retrieved from,using%20a%20built-in%20microphone.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Ehrenkranz, M. (2016, August 19). Talking to strangers? This popular chat site is saving all your messages. Retrieved March 19, 2021, from
  7. Douglas Mehan
  8. Adam Junghans
  9. Juan Carlos Ramon
  10. Andre Esparra
  11. Casey Lee Chinn
  12. Robert Alexander Kusma
  13. Adrian Gardiner
  14. Jardine, C. (2020, August 17). Illinois man charged after Allegedly exposing himself to 15-YEAR-OLD during video chats. Retrieved March 19, 2021, from
  15. Ehrenkranz, M. (2016, August 19). Talking to strangers? This popular chat site is saving all your messages. Retrieved March 19, 2021, from
  16. 16.0 16.1 Hare, K. (2020, July 30). Social media has made it easier for predators to groom children. Retrieved March 19, 2021, from
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Omegle Privacy Policy
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Indrajeet Bhuyan
  19. Omegle IP locator. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2021, from
  20. Omegle Homepage
  21. 21.0 21.1 Parents concerned about kids' use of Omegle website
  22. 22.0 22.1 Golden Gate man used app to lure minor
  23. This is what happens when your child uses Omegle