Omegle, the popular live video chatting website that randomly pairs users with strangers, announced it is shutting down after 14 years. The closure comes following numerous allegations that the platform was used by predators to target minors.

According to founder Leif Brooks, operating Omegle is no longer financially or emotionally sustainable due to the “stress and expense of fighting its misuse.” He acknowledged that some individuals used the anonymous platform to “commit unspeakably heinous crimes.”

Omegle grew rapidly during the pandemic as children and teenagers turned to the site for entertainment during lockdowns. However, the platform has been mentioned in over 50 criminal cases against predators in recent years.

Regulators worldwide are increasing scrutiny of tech companies’ duty to protect young users. In the UK, the communications regulator Ofcom called out the issue of online grooming in its first guidance under the Online Safety Act.

A landmark 2021 lawsuit accused Omegle of negligently pairing a minor with a predator. Omegle denied wrongdoing but agreed to a settlement. Additionally, platforms like TikTok banned sharing Omegle links after reports of children being exploited.

Brooks launched Omegle in 2009 when he was 18, hoping the anonymous nature could facilitate positive interactions. But he said continuing the fight against misuse is too draining. Omegle’s closure notice featured a gravestone with its logo.