Whether you consider yourself an avid social media user, or a more infrequent online browser, you have most likely crossed paths with some sort of internet hoax. An internet hoax is essentially a viral message spread via the internet, that deliberately distributes and circulates a certain falsehood. Sometimes, these hoaxes present as a silly, light-hearted internet prank. But other times, they can cause serious chaos.
One example of this is that of ‘The Momo Challenge,’ which started gaining attention in 2016. According to CNN, “the challenge is the latest viral concern /social media fad/urban legend going around Facebook parenting groups and schools. It’s described as a ‘suicide game’ which combines shock imagery and hidden messaging, and it supposedly encourages kids to attempt dangerous stunts, including suicide” (Willingham & Kaur, 2019.)
Numerous people from all around the world reportedly described their accounts of meeting Momo online. In response, Kolkata Police released a video via Twitter in 2018, advising community-members to educate themselves about Momo and understanding how to avoid encountering the character.
The 'Momo Challenge' Advisory. pic.twitter.com/NerszvO7Xj
— Kolkata Police (@KolkataPolice) August 28, 2018
More recently, YouTube released a statement via Twitter to the public regarding ‘The Momo Challenge.’
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) February 27, 2019
The people creating hoaxes like that of Momo are usually hoping to gain attention or stir up fear. Sure, there are some viral hoaxes that are innocent and nondestructive; but there are also the very harmful ones, as well. In today’s day and age, people need to be aware of what they can encounter on the internet, and understand that not everything they find online is trustworthy or secure. Read more about Internet Hoaxes and The Momo Challenge here.
Willingham, AJ, and Harmeet Kaur. “Parents, Please Stop Freaking out over the Momo Challenge.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 Mar. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/02/28/health/momo-challenge-youtube-trnd/index.html.