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Omegle links random people for virtual video and text chats, and claims to be moderated - but has a reputation for unpredictable and shocking content.
Warning: this story contains disturbing adult themes.
A BBC investigation into the increasingly popular live video chat website Omegle has found what appear to be prepubescent boys explicitly touching themselves in front of strangers.
Omegle links up random people for virtual video and text chats, and claims to be moderated - but has a reputation for unpredictable and shocking content.
Global child protection groups are increasingly concerned about predators using the site to gather self-generated child sexual abuse material.
The founder of the website, Leif K Brooks, told the BBC his site had increased moderation efforts in recent months.
According to new research collected by data analyst Semrush, Omegle grew globally from about 34 million visits a month in January 2020 to 65 million in January 2021.
Interest has spiked particularly in the US, UK, India and Mexico.
In the UK alone, traffic increased by 61%, with 3.7 million visits in December from predominantly people under the age of 34 - many of them teenagers.
Omegle has been the subject of recent viral videos from popular social media influencers including KSI, Charli D'Amelio, James Charles and Emma Chamberlain.
On TikTok alone, videos tagged with "Omegle" have been viewed more than 9.4 billion times.
TikTok told the BBC that, as a result of our investigation, it had now banned sharing links to Omegle. The company says its safety teams have not found any harmful Omegle content on its platform but would continue to monitor the videos.
'Men being gross'
"It's a trend now on TikTok that everyone's doing Omegle, so me and my friends thought we'd go back to it," says 15-year-old Keira from the US on video chat on the site.
"Men being gross is something me and my friends see a lot. It should be better monitored. It's like the dark web but for everyone."
In the last six months, many schools, police forces and government agencies have issued warnings about the site in the UK, US, Norway, France, Canada and Australia.
During the approximately 10 hours that we monitored Omegle, we were paired with dozens of under-18s, and some appeared to be as young as seven or eight.
Omegle's disclaimer states that users should be 18 or over, but there is no age verification process in place.