In 2009, an 18-year-old Leif K-Brooks launched an app to help him with his own difficulties meeting people and having deep, meaningful conversations.
He called the app Omegle and the idea was simple: match two people randomly and initiate a chat or video session where they could talk for as long or short as they liked in hopes of learning something new.
K-Brooks, a rape survivor, found the anonymity of the Internet freeing and safe, and his simple idea sought to bring out the best in people.
Unfortunately, the app’s popularity and the anonymity of the Internet too often brought out the worst in people.
In 14 years, the site grew into a popular hub hosting 73 million users, but recently, K-Brooks was forced to shut the site down forever.
The site, popular among teens and even pre-teens, began to attract a darker sort of user who preyed on the innocent leading to many lawsuits against the company.
One such lawsuit that settled just days before the company’s closure detailed how the app paired a girl, then 11, with a man who gained her confidence leading to sexual abuse over a three-year period.
In August, a Virginia man pled guilty to the production and receipt of child porn after having gathered it from over 1000 Omegle sessions with girls aged 7 to 17.
K-Brooks posted a farewell statement online lamenting, “there can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes.”