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"Momo" hoax takes over the internet

by Bridgette Babb - copy editor
Thu, Mar 14th 2019 03:00 pm
hot seat The `Momo` challenge has put YouTube in deep waters. The challenge is a video of a weird looking creature, and it is said that the video gives children tips on committing suicide. The company has since taken down the video and has taken further action from preventing videos like it to appear again.
hot seat The "Momo" challenge has put YouTube in deep waters. The challenge is a video of a weird looking creature, and it is said that the video gives children tips on committing suicide. The company has since taken down the video and has taken further action from preventing videos like it to appear again.

Recently a new threat has surfaced that parents are being warned about. The “MOMO” challenge has gone viral and is said to encourage children to commit suicide. There are conflicting reports on if this challenge is legitimate.

Momo is a creature with jet black hair, bulging eyes and  a contorted smile. The figure would allegedly appear during children’s videos on YouTube, telling them different ways to end their lives. 

According to reports from theweek.co.uk the figure allegedly did the same on WhatsApp to children in the United Kingdom. WhatsApp is a messenger that allows people to make calls and chat through the app, no matter the location. 

Reports of the challenge spread rapidly as more media outlets shared the image, warning others about a threat no one was positive existed. “News coverage of the momo challenge is prompting schools or the police to warn about the supposed risks posed by the momo challenge, which has in turn produced more news stories warning about the challenge,” Jim Waterson from The Guardian said. 

According to the Washington Post, the game is allegedly rumored to be “linked to at least three recent cases of minors who killed themselves in Argentina, Colombia and India.” It was reported that a 12-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy in Colombia commited suicide within 48 hours of each other. The Colombian police said that the two individuals were participating in the challenge, according to a statement given to RCN Radio. 

“Young people are accessing it,” Government Secretary Janier Londono of Barbosa in the Antioquia region said. “The game has several challenges, they are accessing them and, in the end, it leads to suicide to finish the game.”

There are currently no reports or evidence that can ring  truth to any of these allegations. Insider disclosed that Mexican authorities traced the game back to a Facebook group. In this group, the individuals were peerpressured to begin corresponding with an unknown number.

Multiple news outlets report there has been a vast amount of phone numbers saying they are “Momo,” using area codes from Japan, Mexico and Colombia. Fox News disclosed a WhatsApp spokesperson that stated that the company cares deeply about the safety of its users.

“It’s easy to block any phone number and we encourage users to report problematic messages to us so we can take action,” the spokesperson said. 

As most things that go viral, memes about the challenge came from far and wide. 

Most made fun of the ugly appearance of the creature, while others added funny commentary, questioning how anyone could ever be afraid of something so silly. In the opinion of Plymouth University IT professor Andy Phippen, the appeal is in the look of the creature.

“Things like Momo become social media storms because folks are so keen to share. It's a nasty looking image which looks scary, so, the gut feeling would be this would scare kids,” Phippen said. “But check the sources and the evidence trail soon runs dry. It's viral content at the end of the day, propagating just adds fuel to the fire, and creates unfounded hysteria. Don't believe everything you read online.” The Momo hysteria personifies how important the media is in response to sharing information. Without things such as Facebook, Instagram and news outlets, this story would not have been as big as it is.

 It also shows how repetition of information shapes our society. An individual can see a story so any times that in the end it starts to get a little easier to believe. We as a society must work on being more media literate, to know what is real and what is a hoax.