Momo challenge is a hoax

Tori Wilson, Reporter

Almost everyone has heard about the Momo challenge going around on YouTube Kids. For those who do not know who Momo is, well it is a sculpture created by a Japanese special effects company called Link Factory. Momo is trying to persuade kids to commit suicide and to do what ‘she’ tells them to or ‘she will’ kill their family. Well, turns out it is just a hoax.

Parents of children that have witnessed this challenge quickly took to social media to warn other parents about the Momo Challenge. According to an article on The Atlantic titled, The Momo Challenge Is Not Trying to Kill Children, states that someone posted on Twitter, “Warning! Please read, this is real,” she tweeted. “There is a thing called ‘Momo’ that’s instructing kids to kill themselves,” the attached screenshot of a Facebook post reads. “INFORM EVERYONE YOU CAN.” This tweet has been retweeted more than 22,000 times according to the author, Taylor Lorenz.

This isn’t the first time Momo has popped up on social media. The first time she was discovered was a little less than a year ago. Last summer Momo was targeting teens on WhatsApp. A YouTube channel called “That Chapter” made a video covering the Momo Challenge that happened last summer. According to them, a teen did commit suicide. The person who committed suicide was a twelve year old girl who lived just outside Buenos Aires.

First the users of WhatsApp contact Momo by sending messages to one of three unknown numbers that were leaked back in 2016. After they get in contact, ‘Momo’ haunts these teens with horrifying images and violent messages telling them to do extremely dangerous tasks. If the user denied the game’s request then it threatened them that it knows personal information and it will somehow get back to them.

There was another challenge before Momo called The Blue Whale Challenge. This so-called game gave people tasks to do over a time period of 50 days, ending with them committing suicide. This game was responsible for over 130 suicides in Russia, according to That Chapter.

Another YouTuber, Philip DeFranco, says it is unclear how the statue became linked to this Momo challenge. The Momo Challenge became popular only because people would post YouTube videos of their interactions with her. DeFranco references the same issue in Argentina with the twelve year old girl committing suicide due to the Momo Challenge. He claims the challenge is a hoax by stating, “But the big thing there is that authorities never confirmed any link.” He also mentions that Momo was linked to two deaths in India and two children in Columbia, but there is not proven link between these deaths and Momo. DeFranco also says that BBC stated that hackers could be behind Momo, using it as a way to get people’s information, but that hasn’t been proven either.

The second wave of the Momo Challenge has been seen on YouTube and YouTube Kids, specifically in videos about Fortnite and episodes of Peppa Pig. Philip states, “According to the story around this new wave, the thumbnail appears to be safe and would begin with child friendly content, but part way through clips of the Momo challenge and other disturbing images will show up. And according to the people saying this is real, the images could be gory, violent and threatening. Leaving children often terrified.”

The Momo challenge has become such a big thing that YouTube went to its Twitter page and tweeted, “We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: We have seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.” YouTube also said that if anyone were to come across content containing challenges that encourage harmful and dangerous tasks to flag it immediately.

DeFranco says a big part of this challenge is a hoax because people are panicking as well as bad actors who hope to troll and freak people out. There are panicked parents, people in the news and schools, and police warning people based off reports that have not been verified that this challenge is linked to the suicides that have happened recently.

The Article from The Atlantic that was mentioned earlier also says the challenge is a hoax. Lorenz says, “If the videos did exist, a spokesperson for YouTube said they would be removed instantly for violating the platform’s policies. Additionally, there have been zero corroborated reports of any child ever taking his or her own life after participating in this phony challenge.” She also states that these stories’s only problem is that they’re created for distraction and that they offer false reassurance and an easy fix to the wrong problem.

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