It’s high likely you’ve come across this picture of a creepy woman smiling wide. You know the one: the so-called Momo Challenge.
This has been making the rounds on news sites around the world, driving parents to a panic, as this game is allegedly targeting young users of social media. No one can confirm whether the Momo Challenge actually exists (YouTube and Google issued a statement that it does not), but internet users definitely helped in spreading it like wildfire. Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff and deal with the facts; it’s the most we can do in this digital age.
On July 11, 2018, YouTuber AL3XEITOR uploaded a video wherein he shows a creepy image of a half-woman half-bird that he’s trying to contact. He sent several texts and made a phone call through WhatsApp. The YouTuber ends his video unsuccessfully contacting Momo, and thus began the Momo Challenge.
So Who is this ‘Momo’?
The image of Momo that’s been making the rounds of social media is originally from Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa’s sculpture called “Mother Bird”, which was displayed at the Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo back in 2016.
The Game (?)
Allegedly, the Momo Challenge starts when “Momo” contacts you either through Facebook or WhatsApp, and asks you to complete challenges or “dares”. These challenges start innocuous, but as you progress it escalates to dangerous ones, such as self-harm or harming others. Failure to complete challenges will result in fatal consequences. You know, just like those plots in hackneyed horror movies.
Modern-day Chain Letter?
There have been reports on suicide cases allegedly related to the Momo Challenge, but so far none can be truly traced back to it. Teenage suicides from countries such as Argentina, Colombia, India, and here in the Philippines were said to be connected to the Momo Challenge, but there’s been no confirmation whatsoever.
Why it’s the Talk of the Town Again
The Momo Challenge first came into the spotlight through the video uploaded on YouTube last year, but just like any other material that has huge potential to become viral, it’s now being picked up by international new sites thanks to a Facebook post from the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Local news outlets were also quick to jump in, and some were so sensational without even bothering to trace its origins.
The Role of Social Media
The Momo Challenge was not the first to link suicides to the ‘dark corners of the internet.’
Several years ago, the Blue Whale Challenge was said to have caused several suicides. This too was unconfirmed, and probably not true.
What We Can Learn From this
This panic over something that has gone viral, never mind if it was unconfirmed, is nothing new to society. It only makes it trickier these days because of easy access to information, both true and false, via the internet. Perhaps it would be more sensible to keep one informed on the safety guidelines as well as tips for parental supervision that are as easily accessed on the web as these hoaxes.
And parents, talk to your kids. Equip them with the knowledge on the proper use of the internet. Teach them early what everyone should know by now: Not everything on the internet is true.
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