The Momo Challenge Shows We Don’t Know What’s Real Anymore

A YouTube video of Peppa Pig going on a picnic with her family begins like any some other episode of the favorite kids show. however three minutes into the bright, chipper video, a distorted face with bulging eyes appears along that has a creepy robotic voice begins speaking.

“Slice your leg along with you’ll never meet me,” the voice says. “Slice your wrists along with your parents will never see me.”

Another similarly creepy video depicts a slow zoom-in on the character as the item sings “Momo is usually going to kill you.”

Those videos — combined that has a wave of reactive media coverage along with alarming Facebook posts — have panicked parents along with made them concerned which a so-called Momo Challenge could cause their kids to hurt or even kill themselves. Both parents on social media along with news coverage of the story say the videos have emotionally traumatized some children.

however despite the flurry of reporting along with warnings, the item remains unclear how many Momo videos actually exist, whether they have actually caused kids to harm themselves, along with just how widespread a phenomenon the item is usually. the item’s also possible which media coverage has helped amplify the Momo Challenge into existence, creating a vicious cycle which encouraged people to post more Momo videos, sparked panic, along with even caused police departments to issue warnings both about the challenge itself along with the media’s promotion of the item.

As of right now, the item’s nearly impossible to find out just how many of those videos were uploaded on YouTube, since the company has taken them down, producing the item difficult to search for them on the public-facing internet. YouTube told BuzzFeed News the item has not seen any evidence of a widespread campaign.

“Contrary to press reports, we’ve not received any recent evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube,” YouTube said. “Content of This particular kind would certainly be in violation of our policies along with removed immediately.”

No Momo content was found on the YouTube Kids app, which curates along with filters age-appropriate content, according to the company. YouTube also said which the content on its main platform is usually largely explaining the Momo Challenge. As reports about the phenomenon kept going viral, the company said the item’s demonetizing all videos about the Momo Challenge, including ones coming from respected news outlets.

“We’re at an inflection point right right now where people understand which they can place content on YouTube along with generate a media spectacle coming from doing something controversial,” Joan Donovan, who conducts media manipulation research at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, told BuzzFeed News.

The idea of the Momo Challenge first went viral last year, however the item made a return This particular week when social media posts on Facebook along with Twitter, as well as media articles, claimed the item’s causing children to self-harm along with could lead to suicide. The “challenge” centers around the character Momo — a spindly figure with large dark eyes along that has a freakishly long grin — which was originally created by a Japanese art studio however took on a brand-new life online.

The posts say the Momo Challenge asks children to engage in a series of increasingly extreme tasks which encourage self-harm along with suicide. Some posts say the item’s just a few seconds of unsettling video inserted into children’s shows, while others warn which kids are asked to engage with Momo on a messaging service like WhatsApp, where the tasks which the character tells children to do get more extreme.

Although many parents have commented online to say the their kids were frightened by Momo, reports of children actually physically hurting themselves as a result of the videos are difficult to come by.

The Momo Challenge originally went viral from the summer of 2018, when a 12-year-old girl in Argentina killed herself. Investigators initially thought the challenge was in part to blame for her death — along with Fox News along with some other outlets picked up which theory. however a definitive link has not been established. (Researchers have also long noted which many suicide attempts do not happen suddenly, along with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline publishes a list of warning signs to look for.)

What’s clear, however, is usually which news along with social media reports warning about the phenomenon far outpaced the popularity of any actual Momo videos. Viral posts of parents saying their children were terrified by Momo spread across Facebook along with got hundreds of thousands of shares. One early post about the challenge came coming from a police department from the UK on Facebook, which said Momo instructs viewers to harm themselves however could also be hackers looking for personal information. A spokesperson for the department said, “no official reports have been made to PSNI.”

The most favorite article on the topic, published Feb. 26 by the Daily Mirror, has over 700,000 likes, shares, along with comments, according to social measurement tool BuzzSumo. however the Mirror wasn’t an outlier. some other media outlets, like the BBC along with CBS, also published stories on the challenge. Even Kim Kardashian West used her Instagram account to ask YouTube to intervene.

Some of the reports have veered coming from accepted guidelines on reporting on suicide, along with their overall accuracy is usually questionable. The Mirror characterized the video manipulation as “hacking,” which the item isn’t. The BBC appears to have updated its Momo story, which the item first presented as a real threat, to instead refer to the item as a hoax. The Daily Mirror also seems to have altered the date on an old story coming from last August to make the item look like the item was published recently.

Inaccurate coverage of the phenomenon creates a feedback loop among officials, social media users, along with content creators. the item also plays into parental moral panic, according to Donovan.

“We cannot know the motivations of people who are doing the item,” Donovan said, “however we do know which unsupervised uploading of content which’s tagged by users along with sorted by the algorithm based on those tags means if parents don’t watch content before their children do, there could be something inserted into videos.”

She said which once a concept like the Momo Challenge is usually implanted from the media along with minds of parents, others will come along along with mimic the tactic, causing further confusion.

“What parents do need to realize is usually which content is usually often packaged that has a fair amount of advertising, along with as a result you do have to pay attention,” Donovan said. “which could mean which parents should go to the official website to watch Sesame Street instead of YouTube.”

Although the Momo Challenge amassed a huge amount of attention, the item’s just one example of disturbing content being targeted at kids on YouTube. One person who posted about Momo on Facebook also sent BuzzFeed News screenshots of videos on the platform which show My Little Pony characters being tortured along with Peppa Pig killing her family members.