In today's age of social media, there are networks that everyone knows about and uses, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and others that fly a bit more under the radar. Omegle -- a site that bills itself as a place to "Talk to strangers!" -- is one of the social media outlets that belongs to the latter category. Just like many other social networking sites, Omegle has its own terminology, including something called "ASL."
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How Omegle Works
Omegle is a social network that allows users to connect with and chat with strangers. Essentially, the site (or app) works like a two-person chat room that randomly pairs you with another user. The conversations are supposed to be completely anonymous, and users are advised against exchanging photos or personal information. While most conversations on the site take place through instant messages, there is also a video feature that allows two people to video chat with one another using webcams.
The ASL Question
Often, when you enter a chat with another person on Omegle, the first thing they type to you -- at least after a cursory greeting -- is the acronym message "ASL?" This query stands for "Age, Sex, Location?" and is meant to start the conversation by encouraging Omegle users to disclose their gender, how old they are and where they live. These facts are generally the most personal pieces of information that Omegle users reveal to one another. ASL is the Omegle equivalent of a handshake and introduction. Since users aren't supposed to exchange names, their age, sex and location serve as their identifying information instead.
Other Common Acronyms
If you role-play on Omegle, you need to know many other acronyms. Even if you are a regular user who just makes conversation, you may need to know such shortcuts as "brb" for "be right back" and "kthxbai" for "ok thanks bye." New acronyms are developed regularly.
The Dangers of Omegle
The big question among parents, teachers and other adults is whether or not Omegle is safe for kids. According to Common Sense Media, the answer to that particular question is "No." While the site was built by an 18-year-old and tries to keep things anonymous, users sometimes exchange names, personal email addresses, Facebook account links and other personal information. The site is also a hub for profane language, sexual come-ons and other content that is not kid friendly. The home page for Omegle includes a disclaimer warning users that "Predators have been known to use Omegle."