Omegle – website for video chat with random strangers

Omegle is an anonymous video chat website where you automatically connect to strangers. The terms of use require that you are 18 years old to use the service or 13 years old with permission from the parents. “Barnevakten” advise against children and adolescents using Omegle.

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There are a lot of anonymous online chat services where people can connect with random strangers.

A widespread version called Chatroulette was launched as a website in 2009.  It used the computer camera and started video calls with random people on the internet, and you could instantly see and talk to them.

There are several similar services in the form of apps for smartphones and tablets as well as various websites.

Omegle is one of those popular services, and it exists as a website that works on PC, mobile, and tablets.

There is also an app with the same name and logo for android mobile phones and tablets (Google Play). However, we are unsure whether the same developer is behind the app. This article is therefore primarily about the website.

The concept of Omegle (website) is that users can chat with people from all over the world. And the service connects you with random strangers.

On TikTok,  it has become a trend to share screen recordings from Omegle. For example, doing something funny and strange, a mockery for example, and then filming the reaction of the other person you are chatting with. Or simply recordings of strange events that happen in the chat with others via Omegle, and horror videos.

Such videos get millions upon millions of views and likes.

Nevertheless, the nastiest examples probably do not come to light among the TikTok videos due to TikTok’s restrictions on sexual and violent content on the platform. As such Omegle can appear to children and young people as safer and more innocent than the service really is.

In Omegle, one can choose between text-based or video chat. You can also filter Omegle to look for people who have stated the same interest as you by entering keywords such as “gaming” or “sports,” for example. In addition, there is a separate web link “adult” where you are linked to another website.

A third form of chat is called “spy mode,” where two people chat together and answer a question. Another person sees the conversation from outside and can ask questions. Here there may be innocent questions like “what is your favourite movie?” and questions that contain sexual and gross words.

The developers describe the concept of Omegle like this: “Chat with random strangers online, it is fun and offers a new experience every time.”

The service is free, and you do not have to register to get started with Omegle. All contact and those you meet are anonymous and random, according to the developers.

The fact that all communication is anonymous may make the sender less responsible for their own actions.

It is important to emphasize that this is a service that is intended for adults and is based on online contact with random strangers. Chatroulette had great challenges with video chat where strangers were naked and exposed genitals clearly in front of the camera. This can also occur frequently in Omegle.

The developers claim that all video chat is moderated. But exactly what that means is hard to say. First, it is almost, practically speaking, impossible for the developer to keep track of the massive number of videos and text-based chats going on at the same time. The service also does not have an easily accessible reporting system, and none of those who use the service have an account.

In addition, it is possible to start an unmoderated video chat on the platform.

There is wide scope for abuse in such services, and in our review, we have seen video clips of men lying under duvets ready to expose themselves, sexual posters, and more.

A brief note about the Omegle app:

We are unsure if it is the same owner for both the app and the website. The logos and the name are the same, both are called Omegle.

However, the app is structured differently compared to the website, and you are linked to other terms of use. In the app, you choose your gender, name, and date of birth. Then, one can start a video chat with random strangers. It is also possible to report other users in the app. But we have no idea exactly how good and serious this reporting system is in practice.

We downloaded the app and tried to use it. But frequent error messages appeared when we tried to connect with others via video chat. So, we are unsure if the app works at all. Also note that on Google Play, the app has an age rating of 18 years from PEGI, and the terms of use state that you must be 18 years old to use the service.

Suitability

In its terms of use, the website edition of Omegle requires that one must be 18 years old to use their service. And possibly from the age of 13 with parental permission. The service developers disclaim all responsibility for what happens on their platform.

The developers themselves write: You are solely responsible for your interaction with other users of the Services and other parties that you come in contact with through the Services.

The developers also warn that it is known that abusers use Omegle!

Although there may be some ‘excitement’ to come into contact with random people, you never know who or what you might encounter in such communication channels. In addition, there is a risk, as with the TikTok trend, that others take recordings of the screen, which can apply to both text and video chat.

Chat history can also be saved. And even though the developers promise anonymity – some may bypass this by marking the background in the videos or tracking IP addresses, or children and young people themselves may share personal data in chat or be lured over to other channels.

Frequently-mentioned advice for children and young people is: Don’t talk to strangers online.  This service assumes that you violate precisely that premise.

(Translated from Norwegian by Ratan Samadder)