The inception of Video Chatting
Though there were companies like Microsoft and Yahoo present before 2000 which allowed users to connect globally and chat from anywhere online, the need for a video call or video chat with people still needed to be addressed. In 2003, Skype Technologies launched Skype in an attempt to cater to this need of people worldwide and they did succeed to some extent. However, because of Skype’s complex methods of registration and configuration of settings, not many people grew fond of it. Moreover, Skype was more of a formal video calling platform and less of a casual video chatting one.
With the passage of time, people kept searching for easy-to-use video chatting platforms, which would serve as good Skype alternatives on one hand and on the other hand, an increased number of software companies, developers and computer programmers kept experimenting with online video chatting websites offering solutions to users worldwide.
Omegle and Chatroulette were many of the likes which were created to address the video communication problem across the globe. However, Omegle took over the internet by storm, and its popularity surpassed all others. Since the day it has been launched, Omegle’s popularity grew by leaps and bounds, and its growth shows no signs of slowing down till today. Currently, precisely 10 years after it was launched, Omegle has a total of 20,000,000 users worldwide.
History of Omegle
To dig deeper into its history, Omegle was developed by an 18-year-old tech geek named Leif K-Brooks. K-Brooks was an aspiring computer science major who had been writing computer programs and testing them online in the past as well. Omegle, however, was a project that turned tables for him and earned him recognition worldwide.
On 25th March 2009, K-Brooks, who had been working on the idea of an online video chatting platform decided to launch his platform called ‘Omegle.com’. Omegle was initially launched with the web address http://www.omegle.com/. It gained soaring popularity within 5 days of its launch. After its first week of launch, Omegle had approximately 1800+ people using it to go online.
Though K-Brooks’s main aim behind Omegle’s creation was to allow people from diverse backgrounds around the world to have friendly video conversations with each other, the platform was reported to have been used for not-so-friendly purposes as well.
Incidents of bullying, trolling, hate speech, unwanted nudity, spamming, harassment, vulgarity, and dissented sexual advances took place within the first 5 days of the website’s launch and were brought to the developer’s notice. In an attempt to resolve these issues, K-Brooks issued an online statement on 30th March 2009 in which he assured his platform’s users that he will come up with solutions and deal with these problems as soon as possible.
Omegle Mobile App
In 2013 Omegle’s mobile app was launched. The app was available for both Android and iOs users and was compatible with all kinds of smartphones and handheld devices. Though initially, it was priced at $0.99 for iPod, iPad, and iPhone users, its latest version at Android stores remains completely free to download and use. The Omegle app offered the same features as the Omegle.com website. These included two chatting modes; normal mode and spy mode.
While ‘The Normal Mode’ allowed two randomly paired people to chat normally while remaining anonymous, ‘The Spy Mode’ allowed a person to ask a question, and two random strangers would be paired to talk about it unless they decided to terminate the chat. This question would then be posted to two other randomly paired people online. However, the person who asked the question was not allowed to partake in the conversation though they were allowed to read the messages of the two people chatting. In addition to all of it, Omegle’s mobile app came with a lighter version too which was called Omegle lite. The specialty of this version was that it took up less space and would load easily.
Omegle’s mobile app also had a ‘College Student chat’ or ‘dorm Chat’ option and allowed college students to chat with each other.
In 2017, Omegle.com had a major remake, and it was re-launched from the web address https://www.omegle.webcam/. The new version of the website had its policies and purpose modified.
As of today, Omegle allows its platform to be used for friendly flirting with thousands of people logged on to it from Canada, Italy, Spain, India and the rest of the world. However, the website has established certain rules, which include the prohibition of trolling and bullying. These rules might get users banned in case violations on their part are reported. Moreover, Omegle’s mobile app is nowhere to be found and no downloadable links can be traced. In fact, the website clearly states that users can use it over their browsers without having to install anything on their mobile devices or PC.
How Omegle Works?
When it comes down to operation, Omegle’s new website is simple and easy to use. No complex installations or processes involved. Users can access Omegle simply by going online and visiting https://www.omegle.webcam/. The website can be easily accessed from all sorts of devices, which include iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, laptop, PC or a smartphone. It is also compatible with all major browsing platforms including Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Yahoo.
When users visit the website, they are presented with multiple chatting options. These include text chat, video chat, top chat rooms, private chat, free chat, registered premium Omegle chat rooms, and simple, free and unregistered ones. After users make up their minds about which option they want to begin with, the landing page consists of respective ‘Chat Now’ tabs to be pressed.
Talk to Stranger
One of the tabs on the Omegle’s website labeled as ‘Talk to Stranger’ leads users to another page, which asks them to input their gender and language preferences. Once the users have input that information, the page is redirected to another one where they are asked to either register for a premium Omegle account or proceed to sign in with the free one. Once a user signs up with Omegle, whether for the free or premium account, they are allowed to video chat via webcam or text chat via their ‘Messages’ tab. Users can change their language preferences anytime and are encouraged to find strangers with similar interests from around the world. However, in order to find someone to chat with, users need to turn their webcams on.
Private Omegle Chat Room
Apart from this tab, there is another tab labeled as ‘Create Room’ listed at the bottom of the main page. This tab encourages users to create their own private chat rooms. The users need to input a random ‘Room name’ or type in a secret ‘code’. After that, the users are required to press the ‘Create room’ tab. Once done, the private chat room is created. Now, when a user goes online using Omegle and likes a stranger they talked to, they can share the link or code of this private chat room with them in case they want to have one-on-one, personal and anonymous video calling session with that stranger. In order for the chat to begin, the user needs to join the link.
Other than that, Omegle lists all of its top online chatting rooms in a separate tab. Users who want to join them can do so by simply clicking on the ‘Chat Now’ button appearing beside their names.
Review of Omegle Website
As mentioned earlier, the main purpose of K-Brooks in developing a website like Omegle was to foster video communication among millions of people around the world. In this way, people from diverse backgrounds could learn and grow with each other. K-Brooks in one of his earliest statements had remarked that he believed people with common backgrounds and similar interests cannot learn much from each other. This belief is what led him to create Omegle besides his knack for testing his programming skills. However, with the passage of time, Omegle has drastically changed its vision and has taken 360 degrees turn in terms of its purpose of creation. What was created as an online friend-making and personal growth fostering community has now changed completely into an online video dating website.
The current version of Omegle’s website clearly invites people from all around the world to connect with others with similar interests, common language preferences, and backgrounds. Though it is not a bad thing, it still is a deviation from its original purpose.
In addition to it, the text on the Omegle’s website implies that the online video chatting platform has now turned more into a video flirting platform. The text clearly reads that it can be used to find ‘the special one’ and randomly flirt with them for a while. Whether you are a boy or a girl, you can easily find the person you are looking for with one click. Just sign in or register for a premium account, look up video profiles, and connect with the ones you like with a click. If you do not like a profile, simply skip it, though all of this does not seem to be something to be frowned upon, the details that follow highlight why this website raises big red flags for your sanity and your family’s safety too.
As one keeps reading through the instructions and guidance on the website’s first page, they cannot hide their disappointment. The website’s tag line goes like ‘Kill Your Loneliness’ or ‘Talk to a Stranger’. These are enough to raise a person’s eyebrows as a parent and a sane adult. No one can consider a website that makes such taglines safe for their, kids even if they are in their later years of teenage. It seems as if they are inviting innocent minds who somehow feel lonely into a world of predators and perverts.
The ridiculously weird statements on the website are not limited to these taglines. From there, the content takes a more disgusting take and goes on to make statements that encourage flirtatious tendencies and serve as invites to adult men to dig into Omegle’s chat rooms which are ‘filled with girls’. They can find the ones who appeal to them, connect with them, and start flirting for the fun of it. In addition to all of this, Omegle allows its users to stay anonymous, which serves as a cherry on the top for perverts, predators, and other twisted minds out there.
Chat for Fun
As if the website’s content promoting and encouraging random flirtatious conversations was not enough, the website goes on making statements like ‘Do not make commitments. Free Chat is only for fun’ written on its first page. The website proudly claims that it lets people flirt with each other without owing any responsibilities and liabilities of real-life dating and that, its chat rooms are dedicated for fun flirting. All users need to have is a device with an internet connection, and they can easily gain access to this site.
Omegle’s website even has a text chatting option for the ‘shy’ ones. Text chatting option allows the ‘shy’ people to join in the fun without revealing their personal identities or information and start a text chat by the names Stranger, Stranger 1 and Stranger 2. As soon as people join this option, the usual norm is they send each other ‘ASL’ (Age, Sex, Location) requests the minute they join it and start chatting. In some cases, people start sending over nudes to each other without hesitation in the blink of an eye. People can go on chatting with each other as long as they want too unless one of them disconnects and decides to leave the conversation. It is similar to ‘The Spy Mode’ Omegle had in its previous version, which allowed people to hide their identities and keep reading other peoples’ messages over a question asked. The only thing in which this option differs is, now there is no option of asking a question.
According to statistics, ‘video chat with girls’ is one of the most searched words on Omegle. Other than that, most of Omegle’s population consists of males, and there have been incidents where some fake female accounts were being operated by males pretending to be females. This also rings the alarm bells. If you are a user who would like to chat anonymously via the text chat option, wouldn’t this appall you? Why would a male disguise himself as a female and chat with people online?
As if all of the above-mentioned information was not discouraging enough, the revelation that the website developers clearly lay down instructions to stay safe is also baffling. The developers suggest that users must not share their real-life personal information with anyone in the chat boxes, whether text or video ones, for the sake of their security. This statement for a fact is alarming. If Omegle is only to be used as a harmless dating site, why do people need to hide their real-life identities?
According to information available on Omegle’s older website, third party software can be used to record your video calls, and your intimate chats can be shared online with friends via screenshots or any other such means. The developers are of the opinion that since by far and large human behavior is uncontrollable, thus any event resulting in you being harassed or your kid being cyber-bullied because of the messages they sent or nudes they shared is solely your and the ‘Stranger’s’ responsibility. This fact is sheer horrifying and disgusting and clearly means that Omegle is in no way a safe place for anyone, whether a kid or an adult.
Other than that, more often users encounter bots, pedophiles, predators, and sex psychos on this website which totally dismisses the ‘just for fun dating’ notion Omegle tries to depict its website is about. If you search online for the word ‘Omegle’, the results in the video section show exactly how harmless and fun it is to be there. Most of these videos contain tag lines like ‘bullying her on Omegle’ or ‘trolling him on Omegle’.
Moreover, Omegle users have reported encountering strangers who are lonely cybersex seekers. As soon as a person logs on to this website, the first thing the ‘Stranger’ asks after ‘ASL’ is ‘Cybersex’. Despite the website’s claims, its video chats are also not monitored at all. People are found to be masturbating amid video chats, and nobody takes any action on complaints regarding them. Although the website has a restricted and unrestricted section, the content in the unrestricted section is appalling enough that the segregation made in the content is useless.
Over the period of time, Omegle’s popularity as ‘a not so safe place’ is growing among the concerned parents worldwide, and what is unbelievable is that young minds filled with curiosity are drawn so magnetically to it. According to recent news, ‘Omegle’ was the most searched word in the Philippines in 2019. These stats clearly show how unaware and curious youth are being drawn into dangers of encountering twisted minds, bullying, harassment, trolling, cybersex, nudity, and breach of privacy in case their chats, photos, or videos get leaked in the name of a free video dating website. All of these are matters of grave concern and dark nature. The only good points Omegle can score are for its free of cost use. Other than that, it is in no way a ‘secure’ place to be and is in no way recommended to be used by kids especially.
The journey from Start till Present
When one looks at the history of Omegle and how it started, one cannot help but nod in disappointment at what it has become. Though its numbers keep increasing, the content on Omegle’s current website, reports of misuse of chat rooms, and users’ resentments worldwide clearly show that the ‘U-turn’ K-Brooks had taken in his original philosophy behind the creation of Omegle did not serve him well on moral grounds.
Omegle is not an only option for people who like to go to safe video chatting platforms through which they can make friends, get to know people around the world, and connect with them. There are other safer alternatives also. Search for online platforms where proper community guidelines are followed and profiles are scrutinized for their authenticity and monitored thoroughly. Whether you need a dating website or a friends making platform, search for websites with better repute and not so shady profiles.
In this age of digital communication, it is imperative to teach our kids a thing or two about Cyber Security. People asking for cybersex on dating websites so openly is not just mind baffling for kids but for adults too. Remember, with freedom comes great responsibility. As users, you are free to make your choice, but in case something goes bad, you will have to put up with the consequences. As for Omegle, while the website did provide people all over the world with a platform to connect and communicate with each other without any formalities to be met. The platform now has lost its original essence and purpose. It has become less of a mind-opening and friendship fostering community and more of a fake profile dating platform.