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  • Lameesa Zahedul

The Momo & Blue Whale Challenges

Over the years, the informational era has birthed many different urban legends that had the capability to drive people crazy. The two legends that are currently circulating the web are the Momo Challenge and the Blue Whale Challenge. Both are targeted at the young, impressionable minds of children and teenagers. Numerous deaths have occurred since the start of these so-called “games,” and parents often blame these challenges for taking their child’s life. Are these “games” really a threat? Here’s what you need to know.

The Momo Challenge first came to the public’s attention in July of 2018, but has recently made a comeback in the beginning of 2019. Momo is a female monster who contacts adolescents on social networks like Facebook and WhatsApp, and pressures them into completing violent tasks. Some of these tasks include self-harm and suicide, and refusal to complete them result in threats.

Parents as well as Kim Kardashian and the organization National Online Safety have reported seeing Momo appear in seemingly-innocuous YouTube videos of Fortnite and Peppa Pig, whose targeted audience is toddlers and young children. However, authorities have not affirmed that these cameos have influenced any physical harm or that online conversations between Momo and other users have ever existed. Nevertheless, police and school educators have issued warnings regarding the challenge and encouraged students to take special caution. Police in Indonesia, India, and the Philippines have linked the suicides of young teenagers as a result of the Momo Challenge. However, some claim that Momo is unlikely to have caused any suicides, but could be the actions of bullies and pranksters taking advantage of the phenomenon. WhatsApp has taken heed of the situation and encourages users to report any number claiming to be Momo.

The Blue Whale Challenge is another internet phenomenon that caused moral panic throughout the world. The challenge was created in Russia and is claimed to have began as early as 2013. The challenge is a “game” between an administrator and a participant and lasts for 50 days.The participants are threatened to keep the game a secret from their parents and the police. Each day, the participant must complete the activity the administrator proposes to him/her, and failure to do so results in threats. The tasks start off simple, such as waking up at 4:30 AM, but become more violent as the days progress. The fiftieth day, the user is commanded to commit suicide.

In 2016, 21-year-old student Philipp Budeikin pled guilty to inventing the game and inciting the suicides of 16 young girls, and was arrested. He intended to cleanse society by persuading impressionable minds to kill themselves because he regarded them as “having no value.” In 2017, postman Ilya Sidorov was arrested for creating a group similar to Blue Whale, promoting children to engage in self-harm and ultimately die. In 2018, financial analyst was arrested for masterminding the Blue Whale Challenge in response to her contempt for teenagers.

Although the popularity of both the Momo and Blue Whale Challenges have decreased, it is still important that parents monitor the online activity that their children engage in to prevent any games similar to these challenges from surfacing on the web.

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