What is Omegle?
Omegle is one of the most famous social networking websites in which users are connected with other unknown users at random in order to chat via video, text or audio. This kind of website is known as a ‘virtual chatroom’. It is one of the most popular and trusted websites in this section.
There is an official Omegle website known as www.omegle.com but also many additional sites such as Omegle UK, and various associated apps such as ‘Chat for Omegle’, ‘Free Omegle Chat’, ‘Omeglers’. All sites and apps contain the same features and purpose like the official Omegle site, but only some claim to be associated with Omegle and others state that they are not associated. The information below relates to the official Omegle website but may well be applicable to the other Omegle-style platforms.
How much does it cost?
The Omegle website is free to access, and the apps are free to download and use as they connect to a user’s existing data plan or Wi-Fi to send and receive messages. There may be charges if the user is not connected to Wi-Fi or they have exceeded the data limit on their device.
In its written terms and conditions on the site, Omegle has a 13+ age restriction and asks users under 18 to access the site with parental permission or guidance only. However, there is no registration process or age verification while using the website, Like many social media sites.
Should I be concerned about Omegle?
The tagline for Omegle is “Talk to strangers”. Chatting to different people online can be fun, but as Omegle acknowledges, However, there is a strong risk of users encountering 18+ content on Omegle.
Text chat connects the user “you” and a “stranger” in instant text messaging. It has a ‘spy’ function. Users can either be the ‘spy’ and log on as a hidden third party in a text chat between two users. Alternatively, a user can be the participant rather than the ‘spy’ and discuss the question with another user. The questions asked, and corresponding conversations, can be explicitly sexual.
Video chatting in Omegle has three different options- moderated, unmoderated and adult. Omegle states that the blue video button is the ‘moderated’ section of the site. By clicking this button the user is taken directly to live video and text chat. No warning message appears to alert the user of sexual content (as it does in the unmoderated and adult sections below). Nevertheless, despite the message stating ‘video is monitored, keep it clean’, users visiting this section are likely to encounter numerous other users engaging in sexual chat and activity Omegle also offers unmoderated video chat (see screenshot below).
When a user clicks on this unmoderated chat, a warning box is displayed stating users are likely to encounter sexual behaviour and to confirm that they are 18+ before going on with it.The user is then taken directly to a very similar video and text chat screen as the previous monitored section (see above). This section of the site is rife with sexually explicit videos, including live stream sexual acts. Within both the moderated and unmoderated sections, it is important to remember that any video can be recorded and faked and so it is easy for users to misrepresent their age and gender. Omegle also offers an option to take a screenshot of the live feed, and users could use their own devices to record the screen. This could then be shared by anyone, anywhere
The other option for video chat is the ‘adult’ (18+) section, where users can view adult content by accessing an external adult pornography site. When the user clicks the ‘adult’ option, a message appears warning the user of sexual material and asks the user to ‘confirm’ they are over 18. If the user confirms they are over 18 they are automatically redirected to the external site. Omegle does not verify the age of the user so the content can easily be accessed by under 18s at the click of a button.
There is no clear way to block other users on Omegle. Omegle’s Disclaimer states that users can report other users to a Moderator or Admin of the site but there are no instructions or guidance on how to do this.