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A disturbing challenge has made waves in the U.K. that’s threatening the lives of young people.
According to CBS News, parents and police are issuing warnings against a WhatsApp messaging challenge called the “Momo game” or the “Momo challenge.”
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The challenge first gained buzz last summer, and mostly children or teens have been known to participate. It requires them to contact a stranger under the name “Momo” using a creepy image. Then, through WhatsApp correspondence, they encourage participants to carry out various tasks if they want to avoid being “cursed.”
Some of these tasks include self-harm, and Momo even insists the participants provide photographic evidence to continue the game. Ultimately, the game ends with Momo telling the participant to kill themselves and record it for social media.
The “Momo” image is taken from an actual sculpture called “Mother Bird” by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa. There’s nothing to indicate Aisawa’s company Link Factory had anything to do with the creation or execution of the Momo challenge.
After initially going viral over the summer, the challenge seemed to die down. But now, parents around the U.K. are still finding the game on WhatsApp, and some are even finding it hidden within animated videos for kids across social media.
“WhatsApp cares deeply about the safety of our users,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told CBS News. “It’s easy to block any phone number and we encourage users to report problematic messages to us so we can take action.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) paints a bigger picture of the challenge:
“Basic open source research suggests that ‘Momo’ is run by hackers who are looking for personal info,” PSNI Craigavon wrote on Facebook. “The danger lies with your child feeling pressured to either follow the orders of ANY app via ‘challenges,’ or peer pressure in chat rooms and the like … More important is that your child knows not to give out personal info to ANYONE they don’t know, that no one has the right to tell them to, or make them do ANYTHING they don’t want to.”
“We are aware that some nasty challenges (Momo challenge) are hacking into children’s programmes. Challenges appear midway through Kids YouTube, Fortnight, Peppa pig to avoid detection by adults,” the Northcott Community Special School in Hull, England, tweeted. “Please be vigilant with your child using IT, images are very disturbing.”
Since the Internet has no regional boundaries, it’s safe to say the same precautions should be taken in the U.S. and around the globe.
Be safe out here.
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