Is Omegle Shut Down Amid Safety Concerns? Learn About Omegle Alternatives!
For the last 14 years, Omegle has been among the most popular video chatting websites, with nearly 3.5 million active daily users. But on November 8, 2023, the anonymous chat service was unexpectedly shut down after settling a long-lasting lawsuit. So, is Omegle gone forever, and are there any alternative websites or apps to chat with strangers online? Keep reading this article to find out.
Why was Omegle shut down?
Omegle was shut down after facing numerous claims of abuse. While not many details have been revealed to date, it’s already clear that the young woman identified as “A.M.” fell victim to a pedophile known as “Omegle Predator” in 2014, when she was just 11 years old. In 2021, the man was sentenced to jail in Canada after being accused of multiple sexual crimes.
But it wasn’t the end of the story. A.M. and her attorneys also filed a suit against Omegle, claiming that the online chatting platform’s design facilitated abuse against her, as well as many other victims. In fact, according to BBC, the platform was mentioned in nearly 50 recent cases related to pedophiles and sexual predators. And most likely, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
— Forbes (@Forbes) November 10, 2023
A.M. sought $22 million in damages. In November 2023, the two parties came to an agreement, which led to Omegle’s shutting down a week afterward. Now, let’s see what K-Brooks, the website’s founder, had to say in his farewell post.
Omegle’s reaction to the shutdown
K-Brooks, who founded Omegle in 2009 (he was only 18 then), admitted that he couldn’t longer withstand the stress of running the platform. According to his most recent blog post, operating Omegle has been at a financial and psychological loss.
At the same time, Brooks claims that he launched the platform with good intentions. The famous slogan of Omegle – “Talk to strangers!” – was meant to encourage users to meet new friends and spend some good time together. But he also couldn’t deny that his website became a goldmine for predators and a dangerous place for minors and inexperienced users.
“Frankly, I don’t want to have a heart attack in my 30s,” – K-Brooks concluded.
Apparently, the iconic chatting website closed forever. Now, if you enjoy talking to strangers online, you likely wonder whether there are some alternatives to Omegle (less insecure, yet still entertaining). No worries – we got you covered! Let’s look at the most noteworthy websites and apps similar to Omegle but with better privacy and security features in place.
Top 11 Omegle alternatives to consider
Looking for a new Omegle? Here are our top picks of online chatting websites and applications you can jump into right now.
CallMeChat is a decent Omegle alternative, allowing you to connect with strangers while avoiding privacy concerns. This website secures your communication with reliable encryption and two-factor authentication. Besides, you don’t have to share your personal information to start chatting.
CallMeChat’s features include common and random video chats and access to your call history. Also, you can earn coins on the platform to unlock some unique functions and upgrade your account. The platform comes with a 7-day free trial and provides various discounts and special offers for new users.
ChatHub is a simple browser-based chatting platform that connects random people based on their languages and regions. It doesn‘t require signup, so you can start talking to people right away.
The website offers two rooms – a general one and a space for discussing specific topics, such as online games or movies. Audio and video filters will allow you to partly or fully hide your identity and location. But like Omegle, ChatHub doesn’t offer a mobile or desktop application and is only available via a browser.
ChatRandom is another Omegle video chat alternative that functions as an online dating app. It allows you to choose the gender and country of the people you connect with.
Also, ChatRandom has a swipe-right feature similar to Tinder. With its help, users can look for the most interesting random matches on the platform. ChatRandom offers a mobile app for iOS and Android, enabling convenient on-the-go communication.
This Omegle alternative lets you connect with strangers via audio or video calls and text them. Registration isn’t mandatory, but you will have to log in to join various groups based on certain topics and interests.
The Tinychat mobile app is available for iOS and Android. It also offers a premium version that comes without pop-ups and ads.
This online chatting platform is somewhere in the middle between Omegle-like sites and game-streaming services like Twitch. LiveMe lets you run live streams available to multiple users worldwide. At the same time, you can interact with other streamers and even create open group chats.
Many extra features of LiveMe can be used if you own Coins – specific in-app currencies you can earn on the platform or purchase online. VIP users unlock premium labels, badges, group chat boxes, stream replays, and more.
YouNow is another application that combines online chatting and live streaming. You can establish brief conversations with random users or build a huge international fanbase, broadcasting to many users from different countries. YouNow is a convenient platform for bloggers, influencers, and their fans.
Among multiple Omegle-similar sites, Shangle stands out as a convenient and feature-rich platform for chatting with strangers. One of its specifics is that users can send or receive virtual gifts and exchange content, such as images, videos, and voice messages. If the platform spots potentially offensive or irrelevant content, it automatically erases the message.
Shagle is only available via a web browser. Also, to communicate solely with the chosen gender, you will have to switch to a paid plan.
CamSurf is a very simple and user-friendly online chatting platform that offers mobile apps for Android and iOS. The platform includes all the essential features you would expect from a decent Omegle alternative. In particular, it doesn’t require registration. But registered users can access extended functionality (for example, they are allowed to choose the gender of people they meet).
One more worthy alternative to Omegle is EmeraldChat. This platform works on browsers only and doesn’t require users to register (but similar to other free video chatting websites, EmeraldChat has a paid version with additional features). The website provides several communication options, including video calls, one-on-one chats, and group chats. It also has stricter guidelines for the community and more solid moderation than Omegle.
Bazoocam is an online chatting site offering to participate in multiplayer games like Tetris and meet new people along the way. Also, if you share your geolocation when entering the chat, the platform will connect you with nearby users. The “Next” button works similarly to Tinder swipe, letting you skip unwanted chats and keep looking for a better match.
This Omegle alternative app is a modern and interactive way to talk to people from different countries and regions. The platform is well-designed and easily accessible. You can use AI-generated face masks to hide your real identity and have fun while making new friends. On top of that, Chatspin allows you to apply filters based on users’ gender and location.
Main risks associated with video chatting websites like Omegle
Here are the most critical privacy and security issues of online chatting platforms similar to Omegle.
- Inappropriate content. Even with strict moderation and fair use rules, chatting sites and applications like Omegle can’t stop all offenders from misusing the platform. Usually, they have an anonymous approach and follow a “click-and-go” principle, which may lead to unwanted connections. Such websites are especially dangerous for minors who may come across illicit content like nudity or violent acts.
- Hacks and scams. Before Omegle closed, a couple of independent studies proved that such a website could be easily hacked (which is likely true for any other platform of this kind). Despite claiming to be anonymous, Omegle-like websites have multiple vulnerabilities, which may result in sensitive information leakage. Later, threat actors can use it to harass or blackmail users.
- Grooming and sextortion. As mentioned, the A.M. case was just one out of hundreds (or even thousands) of sexual abuse cases associated with Omegle. While similar websites may be moderated more strictly, they still put users at risk of being trapped by predators. All in all, it’s safe to say that most video chatting sites that connect random strangers can’t be safe for kids and teenagers.
- Screen recordings. Anyone can use a simple screenshot function or a specifically designed application to record you while involved in a chat. This requires extra caution since most websites like Omegle don’t offer measures to prevent users from capturing their video conversations.
With these potential risks in mind, let’s consider the main protection measures to use video chatting websites and apps safely.
How to protect yourself on online chatting sites
Here are the most effective ways to protect yourself when using websites similar to Omegle.
1. Stay away from spoofed links
When chatting with other users on ChatRandom, Shagle, CamSurf, or any other similar platform, avoid any suspicious links sent by strangers. They potentially lead to phishing websites, striving to steal your credentials and other personal details.
2. Avoid oversharing
Providing a link to your Facebook page, sharing your Instagram account, or revealing your phone number to a stranger may lead to grooming and extortion. So, it’s a good idea to avoid exposing any personal information when chatting with a random person online.
3. Establish parental controls
We already mentioned that Omegle and other video chatting sites aren’t safe for kids. To make sure your child doesn’t get in trouble when talking to strangers online, consider using parental control software. With its help, you can block access to potentially dangerous and harmful websites and apps. Note that not only online chats, but also social media applications like Likee and TikTok could be somewhat risky for minors.
4. Use a VPN and Antivirus
A trustworthy virtual private network (VPN) service like VeePN will help you strengthen your cybersecurity and maintain your digital privacy on insecure chatting websites. This tool hides your IP address and protects all your Internet traffic, running your data through an encrypted tunnel. It means that hackers, snoopers, and other third parties won’t be able to compromise your online activities. For example, even if some details like your IP address become visible to other users, they will only see unreadable text.
Besides, thanks to a powerful online security feature like VeePN’s NetGuard, you can stay away from phishing links, malware-infected websites, and other cyber threats.
Another important tool that helps avoid malware, spyware, viruses, and other threats associated with vulnerable websites and apps is powerful antivirus software. With VeePN’s Antivirus feature for Windows and Android, you can run regular system checkups and spot suspicious activity on your device.
Check out VeePN’s pricing plans today and try it risk-free with a money-back guarantee to chat safely!
FAQ: Omegle Shutting Down
Yes, the Omegle website was closed on November 8, 2023 (14 years after its launch) due to user claims of sexual abuse. For more details, read this article.
Omegle stopped working because the website was accused of facilitating the activity of pedophiles and sexual predators. After a lawsuit was filed against Omegle, the sides came to an agreement, which led to the website’s shutdown. Check out this article to learn more.
Yes, Omegle is unlikely to relaunch in the future. Due to the final statement of the website’s founder, K-Brooks, the project is no longer sustainable, both financially and psychologically. For more information, read this article.
Omegle was shut down due to the decision of the website’s founder after facing a lawsuit related to child abuse. Find out more in this article.
There are dozens of apps and sites similar to Omegle chat. Some worthy alternatives include CallMeChat, ChatRandom, ChatHub, Tinychat, EmeraldChat, and more. Find the top 10 online chatting platforms that can replace Omegle in this article.