Warning against WhatsApp game 'Momo,' which is being cited as the next Blue Whale
The game picks impressionable young people as its targets, and usually happens over WhatsApp where youngsters are threatened if they do not follow the orders that are given to them
Parents are being warned about a new online game which authorities believe led to the suicide of a teenager in Argentina, and which is being cited as the next "Blue Whale," an online dare game which reportedly claimed around 130 lives in Russia.
The game called 'Momo' picks young and impressionable people as its targets, and usually happens over WhatsApp where young people are threatened if they do not follow the orders that are given to them.
The game starts with an unknown mysterious figure, known as the controller, sending grotesque images to the intended victim over the popular messaging app. The game then proceeds to threaten the unwilling player if they refuse to follow the "orders" which the controller has given.
Authorities in Argentina are in the middle of investigating the suicide of a 12-year-old girl from the town of Ingeniero Maschwitz close to Buenos Aires. They believe that the death may be linked to Momo. The Buenos Aires Times reported that the victim filmed a video on her cell phone just before she died. Officers have suspected that someone had coaxed the girl into committing suicide and are currently investigating an unnamed 18-year-old who is believed to have been in contact with the victim.
A statement by the police said: "The phone has been hacked to find footage and WhatsApp chats, and now the alleged adolescent with whom she exchanged those messages is being sought." The authorities also added that they believe the teen's "intention was to upload the video to social media as part of a challenge crediting the Momo game" for her suicide. Police from as far as Germany, Spain, India, and Mexico are warning parents and youngsters about the vile online game.
A spokesperson for the Computer Crime Unit of Tabasco in Mexico said: "The risk of this challenge among young people and minors is that criminals can use it to steal personal information, incite suicide or violence, harass, extort and generate physical and psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia."
The physical appearance of "Momo" is a terrifying image of a woman who has features that can be described as heavily distorted and nightmare-inducing. The avatar is actually a sculpture made by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi and has nothing to do with the game as such.
The game has been compared to the infamous Blue Whale game that became a social media phenomenon for all the wrong reasons. Youngsters had been encouraged to perform daily tasks that included self-harming, watching horror films, and waking up at weird hours during the game. The Blue Whale tasks, which had been thought up by anonymous social media users, escalated in intensity until the 50th day of the game when the youngsters were finally told to kill themselves to win.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) had commented on the craze and has stressed that children should not be doing anything that willingly makes them feel unsafe.
A spokesperson for the organization said in a statement: "Children can find it difficult to stand up to peer pressure but they must know it’s perfectly okay to refuse to take part in crazes that make them feel unsafe or scared. Parents should talk with their children and emphasize that they can make their own choices and discuss ways of how to say no. Reassuring a child that they can still be accepted even if they don’t go along with the crowd will help stop them doing something that could hurt them or make them uncomfortable."
For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.