Omegle, a free website that allows users to video chat anonymously, is coming under fire for being a haven for pedophiles and sexual abusers. The popular site randomly matches users in a video chat, but they do not restrict the matching based on age. Because of this, the website has been criticized for exposing children to sexual predators.
If you believe that you or your child were abused, groomed, exploited, or in any way violated on Omegle, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe today for an immediate discussion about your case.
What Is Omegle?
Omegle is a free website that allows users to chat anonymously without registering. Users decide whether they want to chat using text or video (video is their main product) and then they are randomly matched with another person. The two users are then immediately shown each others’ live videos. A user can stay and chat, or they can click a button that immediately pairs them with a new person.
The popular site has a “monitored” and “unmonitored” section. The latter is an “adults only” section that allows nudity. Users are required by the website’s terms to be 18 or older. However, there is no mechanism to verify age.
Most people familiar with the website know it as a place where you can find unpredictable and shocking content. After all, its tagline is “Talk to Strangers”.
Why Is Omegle Making Headlines?
According to Semrush, Omegle has nearly doubled its monthly visitors since the Covid pandemic began. In January 2020, the site had 34 million visits a month. In January 2021, that number had jumped to 65 million.
One demographic that has contributed to this rise is middle school-aged children. The website’s popularity with young teens has grown, in part because of the skyrocketing popularity of Tiktok and a trend where people share their Omegle video chats on the app. This is where the controversy really exists.
The website allows users aged 13 and older to use the site, but it does not require a user to enter their age or even their name. There are also no systems in place to prevent children who are using the site from being matched with adults with sinister intentions. According to a BBC article, adults, teens, and children are using the website to expose themself on video. During only 2 hours of investigation, BBC claims they were linked with multiple nude children.
What Is Being Done About Predators and Pedophiles on Omegle?
In addition to being a place where pedophiles and naive children expose themself, Omegle has also gained a reputation for being a place where sexual predators and sex traffickers find victims. One story that surfaced, thanks to a civil lawsuit, is that of 11-year-old victim “A.M.”
In 2014, A.M. was on Omegle when she was paired with 30-year-old Ryan Scott Fordyce. They continued to communicate for three years, during which time Fordyce coerced A.M. into recording herself masturbating, performing for his friends, and using the site to recruit other kids for him to abuse.
When it comes to a response from Omegle itself, there isn’t much to report. The founder of Omegle, Leif K Brooks, does not publicly talk about Omegle or any of the above claims very often. However, recently he told the BBC that the site is moderated and that his team blocks users who “appear to be under 13”. He also said that Omegle had expanded monitoring efforts in 2020.
Marsha’s Law and What Can Be Done When a Child Is a Victim
Police forces and special task units are getting more and more privy to online predators and websites like Omegle. Because of this, arrests are being made, sting operations are in use, and criminals are being held accountable. But what about the victims and their families? What are they supposed to do after their child has been victimized online?
Luckily, the law allows for these victims to seek compensation for physical and emotional injuries so that they can get the help they need. Using the civil court system, victims and their families can sue for financial compensation in order to pay for any damages that they suffered. One law that helps victims greatly in this effort is called Marsha’s Law.
Marsha’s Law (18 U.S. Code § 2255)] is a federal law that gives victims of child abuse the right to seek personal injury damages from anyone who produces, distributes, or possesses their child sex abuse images. The point of Marsha’s Law is to limit any obstacles that prevent victims from getting financial compensation.
Filing Suit Under Marsha’s Law
In order to file a successful civil lawsuit, the victim’s attorney must first establish that the defendant committed a federal “child pornography” or child exploitation crime and that it has caused the victim to suffer personal injury as a result. This can easily be done using the defendant’s criminal conviction. If the defendant was not convicted of a crime, Marsha’s Law outlines a way that a victim can still file a civil lawsuit against them.
Here are some important points in Marsha’s Law:
- Victims can file a lawsuit up to 10 years after they turn 18; or 10 years after they reasonably discover the “violation” or “injury” that forms the basis for the claim.
- Victims can seek $150,000 in damages even if the actual damage is less than that amount, as long as the tort is proven.
- The statute also allows a victim to seek punitive damages and compensation for other reasonable litigation costs.
Pain and Suffering Damages You Can Claim as Part of Your Lawsuit
As part of the lawsuit you file under Marsha’s Law, you can include a prayer for relief of damages related to pain and suffering. Many people believe pain and suffering relates to physical (bodily) damage, but this is not necessarily true. Pain and suffering can also be the emotional damages your child has suffered as a result of using the Omegle website.
In a case like this, you may also be entitled to something known as “punitive damages.” The point of punitive damages is to punish the accused for their actions to dissuade them from doing something similar in the future. A case against the Omegle website would certainly qualify for punitive damages under the law.
How a Lawyer Can Assist You in Your Omegle Lawsuit
Consulting with a lawyer can be a valuable tool in your Omegle lawsuit. For one thing, a lawyer can review your case to ensure you are filing for every damage to which you are entitled and that you leave no stone unturned. Further, a lawyer well-versed in cases such as these can best guide you on what your next steps should be and how similar cases in the past have resolved.
While there is no “average” settlement in a case like this, our attorneys will strive to get the maximum damages possible for you and your child.
Contact an Omegle Lawsuit Lawyer Today
If your child or teen was abused, groomed, exploited, or in any way violated on Omegle, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe today. We are an experienced, award-winning team of lawyers who have extensive experience protecting clients from some of the biggest companies in the world. Sibley Dolman Gipe has fought against companies like 3M, Johnson & Johnson, Geico, Unilever, Pfizer, and many more. In order to take on such large companies, a law firm needs extensive resources and experience – we have both.
We understand that sexual abuse cases are sensitive, and as such, we strive to be compassionate, caring, and focused on the client’s needs. Let us prove that to you. Give us a call today at 727-451-6900 and speak to one of our attorneys about your case.