The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) is extremely relieved to see that Omegle has finally shut itself down. For years, we have been raising the alarm about the rampant child sexual abuse and exploitation facilitated by the site that we regularly witness through reports to Cybertip.ca and data from Project Arachnid.
Omegle was the perfect storm for online sexual violence against children and youth. The site regularly paired children with adult strangers, lacked any meaningful age verification or moderation, and continually exposed kids to sexual content. Our staff have seen hundreds of videos showing the Omegle wordmark, captured and shared by offenders, of children as young as eight years old who were aggressively manipulated and coerced by adult men into performing live sex acts on camera. Other incidents involved individuals sharing child sexual abuse material through the live video feed.
Omegle’s “age verification” – which until recently did not exist at all – was only introduced last year and consisted of requiring users to click a box verifying they were 18 years old. The lack of moderation on the site is noted in articles like Mother Jones’ The Internet Is Full of Predators. Omegle Lets You Meet Them and CBC’s A website designed to talk to strangers has become a haven for child sex predators, expert says.
Omegle provided offenders easy access to children 24-7, in their homes and in their bedrooms. This goes far beyond simply blaming parents; the fact that this site existed in the first place is the real problem. For years, Omegle has been permitted to operate without guardrails, moderation, or oversight and has daily facilitated the sexual exploitation and abuse of children due to the notable lack of government regulation.
It took civil litigation to force to the shutdown of the site. Governments around the world need to immediately take action. The sad truth is offenders are already talking in dark web forums about where to go next. Until governments introduce legislation that requires online platforms to prioritize the protection of children, there will always be another Omegle.