What is Catfishing on KIK? KIK Messenger is an instant messaging app for mobile devices. Users need a wifi connection to send messages, pictures, webpages, and other content. Anyon… Read More
Is there really a risk if you go to an online chat room like Omegle? Discover the dangers of the popular online chat room Omegle so it wouldn’t ruin your life by taking heed of these tips.
Though the first ever online chat was created in 1973 and called Talkoimatic (via the PLATO System at the University of Illinois), what we think of as “chat rooms” only became widespread in the early 1990’s. Throughout the 90’s, AOL and “dial-up” internet connections emerged with a vengeance and chat rooms (along with “Instant Messaging,” later) stepped into the collective knowledge and use.
It wasn’t long before the hay day of chat rooms ended, as social media sites eclipsed their future. However, with sites like Omegle, chatting with strangers is coming back into popularity sometimes with dangerous results.
Launched in 2009, by (then) 18-year-old Leif K. Brooks of Vermont, Omegle began as anonymous text chatting. It soon introduced video “conferencing” (a.k.a. “video chat”) features.
Today, it incorporates a mobile app for your smartphone device. Similar to AOL’s original retro chatroom style, the service (whether site or app) is different as users are unregistered when paired for one on one chat sessions. The anonymity is furthered as each user chats with the names “You” and “Stranger,” along with “Stranger 1”, etc.
Starting in 2011, new features emerged, such as the beta version of “Spy Mode.” This gave paired strangers the ability for one to be the chosen “spy” and ask questions from two other individuals (still anonymous).
The benefit or drawback to being the “spy” was you could only watch the two others discuss answers to your question and could not comment or further participate. Question and answer sites like Quora incorporate similar but far fewer stealth methods.
2012 brought the ability to have an unmonitored chat on Omegle, only if age 13 and over. Before then, filters were limited. To prevent inappropriate explicit content amongst minors, image recognition algorithms were used, while adults can still exchange adult content in video streams or written chat.
2014 brought “Dorm Chat” where users with .edu addresses (those given by colleges or universities) can connect anonymously with their peers. 2015 brought security measures to limit the use of “bots” on the site, but user response was mixed, as many felt the bots still persevered while ordinary users had problems.
There are several ways in which Omegle isn’t safe:
1. It is not safe for users under age 18 who want to avoid profanity or pornographic content and predators. The algorithm to filter explicit content does NOT catch all nudity and sexual imaging or profanity. Since “Omegle” also has video chat which can be opted for with “Adult” and “Unmoderated” use, this means that minors can potentially use the site by pretending to be adults and that predators look at sites like this as a hotbed of opportunity.
2. It is also not safe regarding the site’s privacy. The site being “unregistered” gives users the false belief that content is not saved and collected. In reality, each chat is kept and retained by the service. Since many users eventually share their personal information at least once (address, phone number, email address, or name), even without registration your identity is permanently saved.
3. Hackers. As content is saved by the site, once shared it remains open to hackers and discovery. As some hackers have proven, the site’s server isn’t that hard to hack into. One hack even downloads screenshots from the website, taken from (considered initially) private video chat.
Would most Omegle users want their content shown to others, used to blackmail them, or worse?
Protecting yourself is mostly dependent on your use and behavior on the site. If you are sure that you will never (ever) share private or personal contact information with anyone on the site, then you might be okay. However, stock your information even once, and any hacker, blackmailer, or scammer could find it, use it, and share it. Worse, if you use the video chat feature your face could be recorded or photographed (or, as seen above, hacked!) without your consent.
Try a reverse search to check that person you met in Omegle:
Image (facial) recognition software can then be implemented to unmask your real-world life and identity. Mainly if you engage in adult, over 18, chats, use extra caution to protect yourself. Lastly, using “Dorm Chat” makes for an anonymous conversation on campuses, but can be used to bully other students, later embarrass them and risk discovery of identity if your email address is hacked or discovered.
While anonymity based chat sites can be a lure to lonely, anti-social, or those living in remote locations, etc., using sites where some people go only to roast, bully or prey on other users is a concern. Adding in the risks of scams, catfish, hackers, and more, the potential harm from the site is increased tenfold. Only use Omegle you’re willing to risk any and all of the above happening to you! Wondering if your content has been stolen from the site and hacked or used?
Social Catfish can do a reverse search of your personal, private, or other information to see if it might be used somewhere on the internet that you wouldn’t expect. Maybe you’ve even connected deeply with an Omegle user through text only and aren’t sure the information the person they gave you is correct! Stop catfish, scammers, and thieves BEFORE they strike by seeking out the information you’ve been provided with before things get too thick.