UPDATE 2/28: YouTube has issued a statement denying reports of the Momo Suicide Challenge videos. Original story follows.
As far as bizarre Internet "challenges" go, the Momo Suicide Game is definitely one of the most disturbing. The Momo Suicide Game is primarily "played" through the WhatsApp messenger service, and bombards players with disturbing images, including the titular bug-eyed Momo creature. The anonymous person on the other side of the app then encourages "players" to commit acts of self-harm, including suicide. Now Momo is making headlines yet again, as images and audio of the creature have been spliced into the middle of Fortnite and Peppa Pig videos on YouTube.
Both Fortnite and Peppa Pig are extremely popular with kids, and so it makes sense for children to watch YouTube videos based on the two franchises. Parents may not expect videos about Fortnite or Peppa Pig to really have anything harmful to their children in it, and so unless they watch the videos all the way through, there's no way they would know that the Momo Suicide Game is being promoted in them.
The mother of a six year old child from Swindon, England explained how the Momo Suicide Game scared her son when he was watching gaming videos. "The video paused half way through, but he didn’t press pause. Then the Momo face popped up and was making weird noises. He couldn’t hear everything it said but it was saying ‘I’m going to kill you’ and he thinks it said ‘I will hurt your friends.'" She continued, "He turned it off straight away and ran downstairs. He was absolutely terrified. He wouldn’t leave my side at all after it happened. He wouldn’t stay in a room alone and he had to sleep with me in my bed last night. He asked for our German shepherd to sleep on my bed also so she could chase away Momo if she got into my room."
This isn't the first time people have used gaming to spread word of the Momo Suicide Game. Last year, a Momo mod was made for Minecraft, with Microsoft promptly responding by restricting it. YouTube is taking similar measures against videos spliced with Momo Suicide Game imagery, removing them from the site as they are reported.
While YouTube and other social media sites have been removing these videos, they have also been criticized in the past for being slow to act. A similar situation occurred recently, where a tutorial on how to properly slit your wrists was spliced in the middle of a fan-made Splatoon cartoon. It apparently took YouTube nearly a year to remove the video, and only after it started to get more mainstream attention.
Moving forward, it's clear that there are steps that need to be taken to properly protect children from dangerous online content. It will be interesting to see how the various tech and Internet giants react to these situations, and if something more can be done to effectively protect children online.
Source: The Sun
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