It’s been around since 2008 and whilst not so well-known amongst adults, it’s fairly popular again with children and young people. Omegle is one website which parents need to know about and have on their Online Safety Radar.
Here’s the app’s description on the Omegle website ‘Omegle (oh·meg·ull) is a great way to meet new friends. When you use Omegle, we pick someone else at random and let you talk one-on-one. To help you stay safe, chats are anonymous unless you tell someone who you are (not suggested!), and you can stop a chat at any time. Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful’
The above statement should have most, if not all parents, somewhat alerted.
Omegle is a live streaming video and chat app where you can talk to strangers based on chosen common interests. It no longer just offers a standalone app for Android or iPhone. It’s now web based and can be accessed via www.omegle.com
Once a user visits the website they have an option of entering some their interests – this is optional. Users have 2 options – text or video chat. Once you select text it connects you with a random stranger to begin your chat.
The video chat works in exactly the same way on the left hand side of your screen. Below is a screen shot to see the difference between the Text and Video options. No account is needed to use Omegle
Omegle also offers an ‘Unmoderated’ video chat section which can be accessed from a direct link on the home page. Users who click on this receive the following on screen prompt;
Once accepted users can watch ‘Unmoderated’ live webcam feeds of other users who are video chatting. Users are actively engaging in sexual acts within the ‘Unmoderated’ live video chats.
The other main link on the home page is titled ‘Adult’. This also presents a popup warning as shown on the screen shot below. If a user decides to proceed they are taken directly to adult pornographic websites.
Spam/automated bot accounts on Omegle seemed to be common throughout. The idea behind these accounts is to automate the process of sending messages. The computer generated bot creates and sends the message. A possible example of a bot message is shown below;
In this example, the automated bot message includes a Kik ID which the bot asks the user to connect with/follow. Once this automated message is sent – the chat disconnects. If you don’t know what Kik messenger is please check out our next blog which covers it.
Ok – really quickly and not to getting too technical – bot accounts across social media have become popular. If you use Twitter, for example, you will find that the service itself has a number of bots. A bot on Omegle is a written piece of code created to perform a specific task repeatedly – the above shows a potential bot in action via Omegle.
Should Children and Under 18’s use Omegle?
Based on the research we have found – categorically not.
The chances of engaging with a stranger, bot set up to lead to groomers or opportunists, or the potential to see the content of an adult nature is extremely high. According to Wales Online Newspaper (Oct 24th 2017) a 40-year-old man, James Stuart Jones, has been jailed for six years for inciting young girls to engage in sexual activity on chat website Omegle. His arrest halted harm to two victims (11yrs and 13 yrs) of whom he had indecent images, one child living in America, the other in the UK.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector Mike Yeo, from the South Wales Police Digital Forensic and Cyber Crime team, said, ‘Jones was a predatory offender who used the Omegle app to engage underage victims in live online streaming for his own sexual gratification’.
Posted By Wayne Denner