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What is the “Momo Challenge” and should You be Concerned?

momo challenge

Momo Challenge By now, you’ve probably heard of the Momo Challenge. And if you haven’t, we seriously want to know how you’ve managed to avoid it! All of social media accounts have saturated with anything and everything related to the challenge. The challenge has taken social media by storm and news outlets everywhere are reporting on it. Tons of the headlines are incredibly concerning; “teen injured in Momo Challenge” or “Momo Challenge claims yet another life.”

Despite the disconcerting headlines, YouTubers have hopped on the bandwagon and begun doing the challenge themselves. There a number of videos available on YouTube where you can watch your favorite Internet celebrity try to make contact with Momo. While some of them claim it’s completely fake, others are warning the community about the real dangers of the challenge. User Jaskinho, who is a big purveyor of the dark web (most of his content circles around buying dark web mystery boxes and haunted boxes), warns about the dangers of the challenge in his video “The Momo Challenge Needs To Be Stopped ASAP”.

With so many people flocking to the try the challenge and so many more cautioning of the dangers associated with it, the world has been nothing sort of captivated and we’ve all been left wanting to know more. Is it real? Or is it just a hoax? Are children really committing suicide because of messages received? Or is this just another one of those social media publicity stunts created by bored people with nothing better to do with their time?

We’ll share our findings with you and discuss what exactly the Momo Challenge is for those of you who aren’t sure. However, even after research, we’re still a bit unclear. Most of the challenge details are rather ambiguous and even those that have documented their experiences with the challenge tend to leave our key factors. Some of the elements such as how Momo contacts you and what she asks you to do also vary from source to source.

The beginning of the Momo challenge

Weird looking face showing in the TV news

The original Momo Challenge actually took place in early 2016; shortly after the bird statue was created. It made its rounds across social medias, scaring parents and kids alike before disappearing just as fast as it surfaced. People were relieved to see it gone, but now 3 years later it’s resurfaced and according to media, it’s being linked to the deaths of a number of a children. However, the challenge isn’t just linked to death; it’s also been cause of injuries and according to police reports, one child even shaved her head for the challenge and is suffering emotionally now because of her appearance.

Although the Momo Challenge definitely made headlines in 2016, it wasn’t nearly as publicized as it is now. This could be because more people have become aware of the challenge and the news stations as well as police departments have taken to social media to warn about it. It could also be due to the fact that it’s been incredibly sensationalized. More and more people are trying the challenge and documenting what happens on YouTube for the world to see, while others are speaking out against it.

The Momo Challenge has even inspired other insidious pranks such as slipping dangerous content into benign childrens’ programs like Peppa Pig (apparently, Peppa Pig is seen mutilated in some of the videos) and other YouTube videos that are supposed to be kid-friendly. However, this is up for debate with many parents claiming that they have yet to find this content and YouTube saying the same. Others insist that it exists, so it’s entirely up for debate.

Why it’s suddenly come back is up for debate. Some experts say that it’s the scare factor of the challenge that draws users in while others argue that it’s a case of boredom and the Momo Challenge promises to fix that. Either way, this challenge has definitely become a scary part of our lives and it has our attention.

What is the Momo Challenge?

Momo Challenge phone

Keep in mind that the Momo Challenge is actually really difficult to describe; reports vary person to person while others insist that it’s nothing short of an urban legend. Because of this, our findings might vary from you’ve heard or read about the challenge.

You would think that creepy bird like face would be enough to deter people away from this challenge, but it’s not. Although we really shouldn’t be surprised; people have been chanting “Bloody Mary” in front of mirrors in the dark in hopes of conjuring up the dark spirit. And the Momo Challenge seems to be roughly along the same lines, but more sophisticated thanks to modern technology.

The Momo Challenge centers primarily around children and teenagers as they are “more impressionable” than adults. Momo (or rather a person/bot parading as Momo) contacts those who are interested in the challenge via WhatsApp and other cell phone messaging programs. Although WhatsApp is the primary source of contact, others have suggested that they have been contacted through email, KiK, Skype, and even Facebook messenger. Once contact has been established, Momo gives the users a list of tasks to perform. Most are dangerous and some even center around self-harm or suicide. If the person fails or refuses to do what Momo has asked, threats are sent.

These threats range from the extreme like killing the person’s parents to a bit more benign like threatening to send embarrassing stories to the user’s friends in an effort to turn their friends against them. Others have said that Momo even went as far as to threaten to leak nudes that teens have on their phones to friends and family. Momo has apparently also threatened to upload these sensitive files to the Internet. Apparently, Momo has even threatened to steal banking information of the user’s parents, publicly release their grades and school information, as well as personal information for the world to see (age, location, etc.).

There are also rumors floating around that threats are even sent directly to the user’s family or friends demanding that they encourage their child/friend to do the tasks assigned or “else”.

How do you contact Momo?

Momo the whatsapp girl

For better or for worse, this is one of the biggest questions regarding the Momo Challenge: how exactly do you contact that creepy bird woman? This is also where the Momo Challenge loses credibility; there isn’t a lot of data about how you contact Momo and once again, it varies person to person. There isn’t really one set way to contact Momo and others argue that you don’t contact her; she will contact you.

According to some, you must first call her. She will say creepy things over the phone and hang up before sending you instructions via social messaging. Others say that she will tell you over the phone what she wants to do and will only send messages should you fail or refuse to perform the tasks. Finding the number or contact information is actually incredibly difficult; even YouTubers who are performing the Momo Challenge (not that we’ll see too many more since YouTube has begun demonetizing these videos) are ambiguous at best as to how they established contact.

Reddit has a few links to the “number” but users are quick to dismiss it as nothing more than bored teens pranking each other. It’s also important to note that these numbers are removed from the topics quickly so don’t expect to find it anytime soon.

Others say that in order to get in touch with Momo, you must communicate with her via social messaging apps like WhatsApp. From there, she will give you a list of instructions to tasks that she wants you to perform. However, those that say the whole challenge takes place via social media apps seem to be far and few between; most insist that you must call a number first.

While it goes without saying we’re sure, please don’t let your teens or kids call ANY random numbers they find on the Internet that promise to be Momo. You don’t know who is on the other side of that line and what they’ll tell your children.

The face of Momo

Momo Challenge Reddit

At the center of the Momo Challenge is that infamous creepy figure that’s going to haunt our dreams for the rest of our lives. However, the bird like statue wasn’t created for the Momo Challenge; the sculptor had no intentions of it becoming some viral scare challenge.

Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa created the sculpture in 2016. He named his creation “Mother Bird” and the creators of the Momo Challenge thought it would be the perfect “monster” for their challenge. And after just looking at the creepy sculpture, we can completely understand why it was chosen; this thing is downright terrifying.

However Keisuke Aisawa has spoken out several times regarding the fact that it’s used for such a heinous purpose. He maintains that he created the statue to inspire and to scare; not to encourage people to harm themselves or commit suicide.

Several urban legends have begun sprouting up regarding the statue suggesting that what Aisawa knew he was creating a being of evil. However, he just couldn’t help himself; he simply had to create it. Others suggest that “Mother Bird” became possessed by evil spirits while others argue that “Mother Bird” lost her children and is trying to reclaim them by taking the souls of new children. Of course, there are a billion other legends out there surrounding the sculpture; the ones listed above are just some of the most common.

Its original (and true) origin story is that Aisawa created the statue for its Japanese special effects company: Link Factory. Both the creator and the company continue to stand firm behind “Mother Bird” insisting that she wasn’t created for the purpose of the “Momo Challenge” and we believe them.

Should you really be concerned?

Man holding Samsung phone and written hoax

After everything you’ve read, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “yes, I should absolutely be concerned” but the truth of the matter is, it could also be an elaborate hoax. Many YouTubers have come out and said that it’s nothing short of an elaborate social media hoax that has the same level of danger as the Blood Mary mirror game. Others have put together videos of them attempting the Momo Challenge with no success; proving that the whole thing is fake.

YouTube has even stepped forward regarding the videos on their site of users trying the challenge: “we’ve done a lot of reviews regarding the Momo Challenge, but we haven’t seen any evidence of videos that promote it on our channel. Harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies and we don’t allow for those for videos; this includes the Momo Challenge. Thus far, we haven’t had any links that have been recently flagged or brought to our attention that go against our guidelines.”

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the whole challenge is nothing short of an elaborate social media hoax, there are a number of police reports, news sites, and parents that insist the challenge is very much real. Some go as far as to blame the challenge of the death or injuries of their children. However, the other side continues to preach that there is something other than the Momo Challenge to blame.

Regardless of whether the whole thing is a hoax or not, we know how easily people can be persuaded; especially with viral content that they see their favorite YouTube celebrities doing. So even if it is fake, people can easily take advantage of others and pose as Momo, giving real dangerous threats that others might engage it.

Because of this, we want our readers to take it with a grain of salt, but to also be cautious. Just because it has origins of being fake doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not dangerous if introduced to the right crowd.

What are your thoughts?

Have you heard about the Momo Challenge before this article and if so, where? We’d like to know if you were first introduced to it via YouTube, Facebook, social media, or a concerned parent. We also want to know if you think it’s real or not. We’re not asking whether you think there’s an actually creepy bird statue messaging people, but whether you think there is someone out there encouraging children and teens to hurt themselves. Let us know in the comment section below!

I have several years of experience in marketing and startups, and regularly contribute to a number of online platforms related to technology, marketing and small business. I closely follow how Big Data, Internet of Things, Cloud and other rising technologies grew to shape our everyday lives. If you want to contact me for any help email me at dealpursue at gmail dot com. [dealpursue@gmail.com]

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