The MOMO Game is the Latest Stupid Internet Craze
I thought the In My Feelings challenge would be the stupidest internet phenomenon of 2018, but booooooy was I mistaken!
The latest dumbassery to emerge from humanity's collective toilet (aka the Internet) is the so-called MOMO Suicide Game.
Where to start...
Back in 2016, Japanese special effects company Link Factory submitted a surreal sculpture of a half-bird, half-human creature to an exhibit at an art museum in the GInza district of Tokyo. The image soon started making the rounds on social media and various "creepy content" image boards and forums around the Web.
Fast-forward to today, when several media outlets are reporting that MOMO is now at the center of a WhatsApp "game" in which users submit their phone number to an anonymous person who then sends them graphic, violent images and dares, which reportedly culminate in a final challenge - kill yourself.
(If this sounds familiar, a similar "game" made headlines not long ago - the Blue Whale Challenge.)
From what I can tell, it seems the people perpetuating this thing simply chose the MOMO image because it's creepy looking and eye-grabbing.
Authorities in Argentina suspect the MOMO game may have factored into the suicide of a 12-year-old girl, but so far that's the only incident that's been widely reported.
I feel it's important not to panic when things like this pop up and are sensationalized by the media.
Obviously it's a terrible idea for anyone, especially a kid, to give their information to a stranger online. And every parent should be communicating with their kids and staying on top of what they're doing on social media. (Keep in mind that even if something like the MOMO game isn't a direct cause of self-harm, it still involves a total stranger sending your kid graphic images and could act as a trigger for children already considering self-harm.)
So far, this MOMO things appear to be yet another meme that's spilled into the real world, and I like to think most of the kids in the age group being targeted are well versed enough in how these things work to know how dumb this is.
That doesn't mean they wouldn't submit their number simply to see what happens (for "teh lulz", so to speak), but hopefully that would be the extent of it. Even so, talk to your kids and make sure their morbid curiosity doesn't lead to them revealing sensitive information about themselves or your family. Because at the end of the day, it's likely the people behind this "game" are thieves looking to mine data for criminal gain.