According to several children’s charities, the Momo Challenge which has been causing hysteria among hundreds of Facebook mums doesn’t actually exist.
Everyone loves a good viral challenge, right? We had the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Kiki Challenge, and as of late, the Bird Box Challenge. Basically, anything which poses a slight risk, the Internet will make a challenge out of it. So naturally, the Momo Challenge has become an overnight sensation… sort of.
So here’s the deal. The Momo Challenge has resurfaced after its initial unsuccessful attempt at scaring people who don’t know better. The general premise is that a skewed image of a sculpture from Japanese Doll Artist, Midori Hayashi, is spooking kids by appearing in among “innocent” videos on YouTube, like Pepa Pig, Paw Patrol, you know the deal.
The image encourages the unsuspecting child to contact “Momo” via WhatsApp, to which Momo begins threatening the child and encouraging them to self-harm and inevitably kill themselves. It’s horrific, and it just doesn’t exist. Yes, the image of Momo is creepy, but that’s about it.
Of course, Facebook being Facebook, things can easily spread like wildfire and as soon as Facebook mums get a hold of it, well you’ve got no hope in hell of actually convincing them that this “challenge” doesn’t actually exist. I mean, the practicality of it alone is nonsensical. But hey, think of the children, right?
It then doesn’t help that popular mum-related channels get a hold of this and fill their videos with baseless facts – like this video which claims “two known deaths have already occurred” despite not actually sharing any sources which contain this news – and out of context videos – again, like the referenced video which is rehashing the same story of an upset child – which they’ve likely found on the internet via other mummy sites.
Okay, The Channel Mum video does offer some useful advice for parents, and even explains that Momo isn’t real, but kick-starting the video with fear-mongering quotes and factoids, is part of this problem to begin with.
“Currently we’re not aware of any verified evidence in this country or beyond linking Momo to suicide.”
Anyway, it seems things have gotten a little bit silly over in old Facebook land and people with a little more sense have stepped in to calm the waves of “can I speak to your manager” haircuts preparing their pitchforks and sharp tongues. Specifically, The UK Safer Internet Centre is outright becoming Trump and calling this “fake news”.
According to The Independent, YouTube has also managed to find some time between removing comments from everyone’s channels to say that there’s no evidence that this is actually a thing. Need more evidence? The NPCC has confirmed that this “challenge” isn’t posing a threat to Britain’s children, and Samaritans have come along to say that this is all poppycock.
“These stories being highly publicized and starting a panic means vulnerable people get to know about it and that creates a risk,” a Samaritans spokesperson said. “Currently we’re not aware of any verified evidence in this country or beyond linking Momo to suicide. What’s more important is parents and people who work with children concentrate on broad online safety guidelines.”
Even Internet hoax checker Snopes has weighed in on the situation with a fairly lengthy analysis on the subject. Simply put, the hysteria around this “challenge” is far more of a threat than the actual non-existent challenge itself.
So there you have it. The Momo Challenge isn’t a thing. Yes, it’s a creepy sculpture, and that’s the point. But it certainly isn’t going to be sliding into your WhatsApp messages asking if you fancy learning some new rope tying techniques.
On a less cynical note, self-harm and suicide is a serious topic. If you need help or if you’re worried about anyone you know who may need help, you can reach out to Samaritans (UK) using the number 116 123, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (US) 1-800-273-8255.