Momo challenge suicide game is ‘dangerous HOAX’ but still poses threat, charities fear

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Viral scare stories are doing the rounds featuring a photo of a terrifying girl with bulging eyes, scrappy hair and a beak-like mouth named Momo.

Parents and children have come forward claiming to have been spooked by the “challenge” – which is also described as a “suicide game”.

It is claimed Momo is being used by internet trolls to persuade children to harm themselves – and is also behind a number which kids can message on WhatsApp.

The face is from a sculpture created by Japanese special effects company, Link Factory named Mother Bird which was on display at the Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo.

Leading charities the Samaritans, NSPCC and UK Safer Internet Centre have now stepped in and decried the whole thing a hoax.

“It’s a myth that is perpetuated into being some kind of reality”

Kat Tremlett

Parents and children have come forward claiming to have been spooked by the “challenge” – which is also described as a “suicide game”.

It is claimed Momo is being used by internet trolls to persuade children to harm themselves – and is also behind a number which kids can message on WhatsApp.

The face is from a sculpture created by Japanese special effects company, Link Factory named Mother Bird which was on display at the Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo.

Leading charities the Samaritans, NSPCC and UK Safter Internet Centre have now stepped in and decried the whole thing a hoax.

Momo

CREEPY: Momo is alleged an internet entity that talks children into suicide (Pic: INSTAGRAM/nanaakooo)

NSPCC chiefs have said there is no evidence the phenomenon is posing a threat to children in the UK. 

And the Samaritans warned tales of Momo shared on Facebook are creating a “panic” that could put further people at risk.

The charity added there are currently no suicides linked to Momo in Britain. 

It is feared the Momo challenge is actually a self-fulfilling story, with worried parents actually creating the risk to their children.

Momo

WEIRD: Momo was originally a statue in Japan called ‘Mother Bird’ (Pic: INSTAGRAM/ @ma_kimodo_shi)

Momo

SELFIE: Tourists flooded Instagram with the pictures when Momo was first diplayed in 2016 (Pic: INSTAGRAM)

Police and schools have shared warnings about Momo, but it is believed these are just further creating a feedback loop.

Momo challenge stories have been doing the rounds since last year – and bear similarities to the Blue Whale challenge. 

Russian media linked the challenge to 130 teen suicides, the exact number linked in some reports to Momo.

YouTube also also denied it is carrying any videos promoting the Momo challenge – saying they would be in “violation of our policies”.

But a quick search on the Google-owned video sharing platform brings up dozens of videos featuring news items and explainers by YouTubers about Momo. 

Momo

WARNING: Schools and police have warned about the Momo challenge – but it’s a hoax (Pic: FACEBOOK)

Momo stories first emerged after a girl, 12, is believed to have been talked into suicide in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

It is alleged a girl, 18, used the face as on her online profile and proceeded to encourage her to harm herself. 

The widespread of Momo is however believed to be a self-perpetuating hoax – fuelled by gossip, coverage and celebrities. 

Internet rumours have often spread into reality, such as creepy pasta story Slenderman being linked to the murder of a girl in the US.

Momo

HORROR: Momo’s exact nature online is nebulous – but children give varying account of her (Pic: INSTAGRAM/Steemit)

Kat Tremlett, harmful content manager at the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “Even though it’s done with best intentions, publicising this issue has only piqued curiosity among young people.

“It’s a myth that is perpetuated into being some kind of reality.”

She added children are now being left “white with worry” after seeing stories about Momo online.

A Samaritans spokesman said: “These stories being highly publicised and starting a panic means vulnerable people get to know about it and that creates a risk of harm.”

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