For clarity, it is important to note the “Momo Challenge” has been associated with reporting on WhatsApp. In a statement release on Wednesday, Google states the following:
“Many of you have shared your concerns with us over the past few days about the Momo Challenge–we’ve been paying close attention to these reports. After much review, we’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are clearly against our policies, the Momo challenge included. Despite press reports of this challenge surfacing, we haven’t had any recent links flagged or shared with us from YouTube that violate our Community Guidelines.
It’s important to note that we do allow creators to discuss, report, or educate people on the Momo challenge/character on YouTube. We’ve seen screenshots of videos and/or thumbnails with this character in them. To clarify, it is not against our policies to include the image of the Momo character on YouTube; that being said, this image is not allowed on the YouTube Kids app and we’re putting safeguards in place to exclude it from content on YouTube Kids.”
We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.
— YouTube (@YouTube) 27 de febrero de 2019
The form of cyberbullying known as the Momo Challenge has made a comeback and it quickly topped the headlines across the world. The dangerous game predominantly spread on social media first gained popularity back in July 2018. The challenge started on Facebook where the page admin, hidden behind a creepy avatar called Momo, asked participants to contact cell numbers via text messaging services such as WhatsApp. The cyberbully was then sending twisted instructions to children and encourage them to hurt themselves and take on dangerous challenges. Kids who refused to cooperate were blackmailed or even threatened by the cybercriminal.
A few days ago, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) released a statement regarding the Momo Challenge. According to Detective Sergeant Elaine McCormill from PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, the alarming social media phenomena known as the Momo Challenge is back again. Similar to how it started last year, the Momo Challenge conceals itself within other harmless-looking games or videos played by children, and when downloaded, it asks the user to communicate with “Momo” via popular messaging applications. Once unprotected children have followed the instructions, they are threatened that they will be cursed or something terrible will happen to a family a family member if they tell someone about this, and do not self-harm. The challenge has made it across the pond and according to multiple unverified reports on social media, is affecting US residents too.
The social challenge is attracting the attention of celebrities too. TMZ, a popular tabloid news website based in Los Angeles, reported that Kim Kardashian fueled the conversation about the Momo Challenge, begging YouTube to prevent the disgusting game from spreading any further. She has reposted multiple messages from concerned parents on her social media channels.
In a statement made on Twitter, YouTube confirmed that they had not seen any recent evidence of video promoting the Momo Challenge on their platform. The Google-owned video streaming platform stated that videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are strictly against their policies and are automatically removed. Minutes after they sent the tweet, YouTube sent another one encouraging people to remain vigilant and flag any videos with harmful or dangerous challenges such as the Momo Challenge. Challenges that aim to cause harm are clearly against the company’s Community Guidelines and must be reported.
Even though there is no concrete evidence about the existence and rebirth of the dangerous game and the buzz generated around it seems like a sensationalized hoax fueled by unverified reports, according to hundreds of social media users, the Momo challenge still exists.
Myth or not, cyberbullying in all of its forms is a problem that must be addressed, and one of the first steps parents must take to stay ahead of the pack, is to install antivirus software that comes with parental control features. Parental control features prevent your children from exposure to inappropriate content often distributed on digital television services, computer and video games, and mobile devices. Parental control software works both ways – it allows parents to restrict the access of their children to specific content, but also serves as a wall stopping strangers from trying to engage with your little ones.