The popular live video chat website Omegle is shutting down after 14 years after a user claimed they were paired with a paedophile.

Launched in March 2009, Omegle grew in popularity among millennials in the noughties and had a resurgence during the Covid pandemic.

Omegle was specifically designed to allow users to talk to strangers by randomly matching users to talk one-to-one using either text or video.

It was free and anonymous to use, with no account registration or age verification.

But the site has been mentioned in more than 50 cases against paedophiles in the last couple of years alone.

Founder Leif Brooks said that operating the website was "no longer sustainable, financially nor psychologically".

"There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes," he said.

"As much as I wish circumstances were different, the stress and expense of this fight - coupled with the existing stress and expense of operating Omegle, and fighting its misuse - are simply too much.

"Frankly, I don't want to have a heart attack in my 30s."

Omegle's closure announcement included an image of its logo on a gravestone.

The website had around 73 million visitors a month, according to analysts at website watchers Semrush, mostly from India, the US, the UK, Mexico and Australia.

"Omegle denied that it was a haven for predators"

For some teenagers, it was seen as a rite of passage to be matched with a stranger in a live video chat where anything could happen.

Indeed, as news of its closure spread, young people who have grown up with Omegle being a wild part of the internet have been sharing stories and memories of the site on social media.

Some good, a lot not so good.

However, Omegle has also been the subject of controversy, and many are also posting horrible stories of the sorts of sexual and predatory behaviour they experienced on the platform.

In a landmark case, a young American is suing the website, accusing it of randomly pairing her with a paedophile.

The account user was a minor when the incident took place and the lawsuit against Omegle was filed 10 years later in November 2021.

Omegle's legal team argued in court that the website was not to blame for what happened, and denied that it was a haven for predators.

The case is ongoing.