Viral Challenge urges kids to harm themselves

Cyber Safe

There’s a terrifying new  “challenge” on social media.   It’s targeting young children and teens and promoting suicide and it has parents on high alert. 

It’s called “Momo” and has been popping up on Whatsapp and other social media platforms like Facebook and Youtube.

Rodney Gullate is the CEO at Firma IT Solutions and Services in Colorado Springs.  He specializes in cyber security.  “If you find a way to understand how that algorithn works, you can take adavantage of it and slip your own in it,” he explained.  Essentially, you would be able to put your video on the Youtube kids channel without approval.  “Then, it will green flag it and allow it to be processed.”

The Momo image is the sculptor  of a Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, who is not associated with the game in any way.

” It’s coing in their really innocent videos with Peppa Pig videos and Sponge Bob videos and showing up,” Gullatte said.  “They’re telling them to slit their wrists. The best way to slit their wrists.  The right way or wrong way and then goes away.”

Momo reportedly responds with violent images and threatens the person if they don’t follow orders, which often end in the “player” being asked to kill themselves and share images and video of the suicide.

This cyber bullying also spreads through cell phones.  Once a person is baited into entering a chat with Momo, they receive graphic threats from the user and instructed to perform a series of dangerous tasks.  

This poses challlenges for parents in educating and monitoring their children.  “There’s parents who make the argument ‘I don’t let my kids watch Youtube,” Guallatte said.  “They ‘ll go to school or a friends and still see it.”  

An added reminder for children to inform their children and help them differentiate between what’s real and what’s fake.”

There are noconfirmed reports of Momo related suicides in the United States.   Police in several cities have issued warnings to be on the lookout.

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