Omegle is an online service that allows you talk to strangers. It has been around for over a decade, and is one of the best sites for anonymously striking up random conversations online.
However, as with everything where people don’t have to reveal details, it can also be a ground for unsavory behavior. We’re going to tell you what Omegle is, how to use it, and how to stay safe.
What Is Omegle?
Leif K-Brooks was 18 years old when he founded Omegle. The site quickly grew in popularity and is still going strong to this day. Its core concept has remained the same: pairing anonymous strangers together so they can chat. While it originally launched as text-only, video was quickly introduced.
Using Text and Video Chat
You can either access Omegle through the official website or via the iOS app. To jump straight into a chat on the website, click either Text or Video. You may need to prove you’re not a bot first, but after that you’ll quickly be paired with someone.
Don’t be discouraged if your fellow chatter immediately discloses their gender, their desire for you, or their want for you to visit a suspicious link. Sadly, Omegle is full of spammers. Simply press the Stop button to end the chat and press New to begin another. You can also press Esc for both actions.
When you do find a real person, use the chat box at the bottom to type your message and press the Send button or hit Enter. Try talking to them about anything you want. Your favorite food, world politics, why Superman is better than Batman… it’s all good.
If you want to talk to someone with a matching interest, input your interests into the What do you wanna talk about? field on the homepage. Omegle will try to find someone with one of the same interests. You can also link to Facebook and import your interests from there, if you wish.
If using the video chat, your browser will probably ask you to authorize access to your webcam and microphone. This works the same way as the text chat, in that you can talk as long as you like before disconnecting and moving on to someone else.
Alternative Modes of Omegle
On the homepage of Omegle, you can access alternative versions of the text and video chats. Click Spy (question mode)to pose a question to two strangers, then watch as they debate it between them. Don’t worry, they both know that they’re being watched.
Click College student chat if you have an education email address and only want to talk to other college students. You must verify your email before accessing this.
For the real risk takers, there’s an Adult and Unmoderated Section for video. This is where you are far more likely to see explicit content, so be aware of that before proceeding.
How to Stay Safe on Omegle
Omegle brands itself as a “great way to meet new friends.” Whether you’ll really be able to create a friendship through it is debatable—every time you enter Omegle, you are matched with someone at random. At the same time, the website also discloses that “predators have been known to use Omegle.” As such, you do need to keep your wits about you and stay safe.
Take note, Omegle doesn’t permit anyone under 13 to use their service. Those under 18 can only use it with a parent or guardian’s permission.
1. Do Not Share Personal Details
This is internet safety 101. Do not give out information that could be used to identify you offline. If someone says “asl”, they’re asking for your age, sex, and location. You aren’t obligated to provide it. If you are giving someone your birth date, the name of your school, or phone number, it’s too much.
You don’t really know that the person you’re talking to is who they claim to be. Besides, think how easy it would be for you to pretend to be someone else. No matter how trustworthy someone may seem, be cautious.
2. Do Not Share Social Media Profiles
Your accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or wherever should not be shared with the other person. You might not think about it at first, but social media profiles contain information about places you’ve visited, who you’re friends with, and other identifiable information.
While you can make your social media accounts private, if you grant someone access then they could extract that information permanently if they so choose. Instead, keep things on Omegle, where once you disconnect you’ll probably never talk to that person again.
3. Do Not Visit External Links
As mentioned, it probably won’t take long before you’re confronted with a message asking you to visit an external site. No matter how reputable it might appear, do not click on that URL.
These people are often trying to phish you by sending you to a page which will attempt to inject malware on your system, or pose as a company in order to get your personal information.
4. Do Not Agree to Meet Anyone in Person
Omegle is not designed to encourage people to meet up offline. Obviously that would require you to share personal details, which we’ve already warned against. But there’s also no accountability. You can’t refer back to previous conversations or link up with that person again because it’s wiped as soon as you disconnect from Omegle.
There are plenty of services to help you make real-life friends.
5. Disconnect If You Feel Uncomfortable
Remember, the whole point of Omegle is that you can chat to strangers, plural. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with what the other person is saying or doing on their webcam, or something doesn’t feel right, simply press the Stop button to immediately end the chat. Of course, you can also close the browser window entirely for a swift exit.
Other Ways to Chat With Strangers
While Omegle is one of the original “chat with strangers” platforms, it’s definitely not the only one out there.
If you’re after a messaging app with a difference, like appearing as an emoji or only interacting with people whose phone batteries are dying, check out our list of weird messaging apps to chat with strangers.
Image Credit: AllaSerebrina/Depositphotos