Omegle is an online chat website that allows users to communicate with strangers without registering. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously using the handles “You” and “Stranger”. The site was created by 18-year-old Leif K-Brooks of Brattleboro, Vermont, and was launched on March 25, 2009. The name “Omegle” is an alteration of the word omega. The blue part of the logo contains an omega (Ω) turned diagonally. On March 14, 2010, Omegle introduced a video conferencing feature in addition to text chatting.
Less than a month after its March 2009 launch, Omegle garnered around 150,000 page views a day. The use of the mandatory chatnames “You” and “Stranger”, the “Talk to Strangers!” slogan of the site, and prompts such as “Your conversational partner has disconnected” at the end of a chat appeared to fuel the popularity of the site.
The kind of chat that Omegle popularized is called anonymous chat, stranger chat, or 1-on-1 chat. Comparisons have been made to early-1990s AOL. The site now provides an Omegle mobile application that lets users chat with strangers from an Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Palm webOS device.
Omegle includes a “Spy Mode”, which connects three strangers. One stranger asks a thought-provoking question for the other two to answer or discuss with one another. The stranger who asks the question, however, cannot participate in the discussion; they play the part of a third-party observer. Spy Mode is still in beta, which leads users to believe there may be some adjustments made to it.
Omegle allows its visitors to use Facebook Connect in order to meet strangers with common interests. The feature accomplishes this by observing which pages the users have “liked” onFacebook, although if the search for similar interests times out, the user will instead be paired randomly.
There are no restrictions on age or any other user characteristic. The site never censors contributions through a profanity filter, and a user may encounter nudity or sexual content on camera. K-Brooks has acknowledged the questionable content of the site, at one time expressing “disappointment” at the way in which the site has been used.