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The Momo Challenge: What You Need to Know

The Momo Challenge – Teen Suicide?

Yes! The Momo challenge you might be hearing about is real and if you haven’t heard about it, well, you are hearing about it now.  Be concerned about your child and the WhatsApp Social Media Platform they’re using.

The Momo Challenge is the successor to the Blue Whale Challenge.

As of right now, I am aware of one teen suicide connected to the Momo Challenge, but others are being investigated as well.  The Momo Challenge sends grotesque photos and threats to people who contact a profile on WhatsApp.

What You Need To Know:

Number 1: The Challenge Happens when contacting a Momo WhatsApp profile. Once contacted, the Momo APP sends directions to curse those who don’t respond and sends terrifying tasks. 

You know how impressionable our teens are, especially 11 to 15 years old. The Momo Challenge typically starts out when people add or message your Momo-associated contact on their WhatsApp. A terrififying image of a woman that is circulating on social media invites people to write to her through WhatsApp. Once contacted, Momo may then threaten to appear at night or curse people who don’t respond to her repeated messages.

Users who interact with the Momo profile are sent disturbing and graphic photos. The “game” sets objectives for the users, similar to the Blue Whale Challenge, and may coerce them into following the objectives after gaining access to personal information.

The series of photos (or challenges) that Momo sends are steps toward committing suicide, such as sending a photo of someone tying a sheet around their neck.

Number 2: During the Momo Challenge, uses are threatened into obeying tasks and hurting themselves

What’s especially important here is that parents, teachers, coaches, and trusted adults, need to be well aware of what the kids are doing on social media and what is out there.

From the app users are coerced and convinced to harm themselves or else the private information will be shared publicly. Other times, the app may threaten to hurt people they love in order to coerce them into doing what the app says.

Here’s how it works – a Momo-connected profile will send the user a picture of a dead person and then will continue to threaten the user’s home, family, and friends if you don’t respond.  These threats continue nonstop and become overwhelming.

The messages can be so frightening that young teens who don’t know better feel like they have to respond.

Again, message parents need to send to their children - Do not engage in any conversations with unknown numbers and immediately report activity right away. See something? Say something. Know something? Do something. Follow these guidelines and share with your teens.

Number 3: Momo uses a profile photo from a Japanese special effects company sculpture. 

The WhatsApp Momo profile is a cropped image of a bird-woman sculpture that was created by Link Factory, a Japanese special effects company.  It’s been reported that the sculpture was designed by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, but this is not true.  Midori Hayashi has stated, “The Momo Bird is no her bird.”

The Momo Challenge is not associated with Midori Hayashi or Link Factory.

The cropped image displays of disturbing photo of a woman with bulging eyes, other distorted and creepy features, and long black hair and bird legs. In fact, the photo is simply a sculpture of a half-woman half-bird.

Number 4: The Challenge May Have Originate in Japan or in a Facebook Group & It’s Very Popular in Spanish-Speaking Countries

The challenge appears to originated in Japan, however, this may just be assumed because the profile photo originates from Japan.

It’s also been reported in Mexico that the game started in a Facebook group. They said that members of a Facebook group were challenged to establish communication with an unknown number. Users told authorities that if you sent a message to Momo from your cell phone, it responded with violent and aggressive images

The APP is been especially popular in Spanish-speaking countries and copycat accounts have been made. The game has been reported in Mexico, Argentina, the USA, France, and Germany and is rapidly gaining world-wide attention. 

In fact, the Momo app has almost become an urban legend of sorts. On Reddit discussion almost a month ago, I read the background stories to the suicide challenge. Apparently, a boy chatted with Momo via WhatsApp (with the real number from Japan) and ‘she’ answered in Spanish. Momo sent messages referring to his little sister’s doll. How did she know about the sister? And here’s where people started to presume Momo can obtain your personal information using your phone number and doxxing you.  Doxxing means, “To search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the internet, typically with malicious inten."  But here comes the creepy part, and, to me, the most horrifying, Momo ‘apparently’ sent several images of mutilated kids. I quote ‘apparently,’ because all the images are blurred, so you can’t tell if they are real or not. So, I started to search everywhere I could for chats with Momo, looking for gore images but I found nothing.  I didn’t want to keep looking because I don’t want the harassment.

Personally, I think the gore images part is fake. Otherwise, someone would’ve already leaked such images, successfully obtained from Momo, making this go even more viral than now. It’s sick. Disgusting. It’s another game on the Internet that is getting full attention.  Unfortunately, this is the power of the internet and what people can do.

Another comment I read about the Momo challenge is that it’s believed Momo is more about acquiring personal information and perhaps installing spyware, rather than threats. I read of a student yesterday, after receiving some gory images, insults and dead threats through WhatsApp, covered her face with her hands while holding her phone and she immediately received a message saying, “Stop covering your face with your hands.” So this proves to me that they have installed spyware on her phone. Maybe it’s a virus.  But, remember, our teens live in the here and the now.  They’re addicted to these games and not afraid to click and search.

Number 5:  At Least One Suicide May Be Connected to Momo and Possibly More

Authorities in Argentina issued a warning to parents after a teen’s death was possibly link to MOMA.  A 12-year-old girl committed suicide in the district of Escobar. Her death is being reported to be connected with the Momo Challenge.

The 12-year-old girl committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree in her family’s backyard. She filmed her activities on her phone just before committing suicide.

Authorities think that someone encouraged her to take her life, and are investigating an 18-year-old that she may have met on social media.

A police statement reads: “(Her) phone is been a hacked to find footage in WhatsApp chats, and now the alleged adolescent with whom she exchanged those messages is being sought.”  Police also said they believe the teen intended to upload the video of her suicide to social media as part of a challenge crediting the Momo game.

There is also reports of an 11-year-old boys death in Zapala. They’re investigating that his death is linked to the game, the Momo Challenge.

Authorities are warning that the “game” may be linked to hacking and privacy concerns, but again, let’s remember our teens and they don’t have the ability, the maturity - Frontal development to emotionally handle the consequences of their actions on social media. Parents you need to know what they’re doing and what APPS they’re using and involved in.  This is a parents responsibility this day and age.

Also, in listening to a spokesperson from WhatsApp she said that people should block phone numbers connected to the Momo Challenge. As all APPS, they care deeply about the safety of their users, but can’t prevent everything that happens. It’s easy to block numbers, but also teach your child to report immediately messages that come through that or alarming or problematic.  Please, report immediately to trusted adults, parents, and ultimately to the local authorities so action can be taken immediately.

See something? Say something. Know Something? Do Something. You can be saving a life and ensuring a family doesn’t go through the loss of a child because of a game on Social Media. 

Parents, please share this because it’s gaining world-wide attention quickly.


The Jeff Yalden Foundation, Inc.

 

Jeff Yalden is a mental health speaker and celebrity life coach who specializes in suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Jeff is also the founder and Executive Director of The Jeff Yalden Foundation, Inc. The Foundation’s mission is to prevent suicide, improve community mental health, and shatter the stigma of mental health by initiating a positive movement to speak up and reach out.

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