The Centre has issued an advisory against the deadly ‘Momo Challenge’, a viral game which reportedly encourages young children to perform violent challenges, the last one reportedly being committing suicide. Momo Challenge is similar to the Blue Whale challenge that reportedly led to suicides of 130 children in Russia since 2016. In Blue Whale challenge, once someone starts the challenge, they would get tasks to do and after every accomplishment, the task would get more difficult, ending with the final challenge of committing suicide.
Momo Challenge is on similar lines, except deadlier. Momo is the name of a social media account with a presence on networks such as WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube. The game started when members of a group on Facebook were challenged to communicate with strangers via WhatsApp. Once a new contact is added, an image of a terrifying Japanese Momo doll, created by special effects company Link Factory for an art exhibition in Tokyo, not associated with the game, with bulging eyes appears in the list.
In Momo Challenge, once the contact is added, challenges are given to meet ‘Momo’, the final one being taking one’s own life. If a user refuses to follow the game’s orders, ‘Momo’ threatens them with violent images. The account seems to be connected to three numbers in Japan, Mexico and Columbia.
Earlier in July, a 12-year-old girl’s suicide in Argentina is reportedly linked with the Momo Challenge. The girl had reportedly filmed her own activities before taking her life on her phone, like Blue Whale Challenge and the authorities someone encouraged her to take her own life. She was found hanging from a tree in the backyard of their house by her brother.
While there are no reports of the challenge being popular in India and while cyber experts believe the challenge being a hoax to steal personal data to extort information, the Centre has issued an advisory asking parents to be aware of the social media activities of their children.