Attention: New viral challenge that encourages children to hurt themselves; experts consider it might be a scam

Some consider that the real goal behind the operators of this viral challenge is to collect sensitive details

According to experts in network security from the
International Institute of Cyber Security, various charitable associations for
children point out that, an online game that allegedly encourages young people
to get hurt, and even to take their own lives, can be treated just a scam.

“The media coverage that has received this
alleged challenge has helped schools, authorities and parents continue to
generate new information about this issue,” said expert Jim Waterson. Kate
Tremlett, manager of harmful content at the British Safer Internet Centre, also
believes that the media overexposure of the issue only generates more
misinformation: “It is a myth that has now become almost real”.

After conducting a thorough investigation, the
British government’s network security experts conclude that there is no
evidence to support the “Momo Challenge” as a real threat to the most
vulnerable users, technology-savvy children. In addition, the authorities say
they have received more media calls than parents concerned about this issue.

Rumors about this ‘suicidal challenge’ began to
circulate after the story of a 12-year-old girl and a 16 year-old boy who
committed suicide after allegedly receiving messages from an unknown WhatsApp
user went viral. Local media claimed that the 16-year-old sent the challenge to
the girl, who was found, hanged, two days later. The Secretary of Government of
Colombia stated: “Apparently the children participated in a game via WhatsApp that
prompted them to get hurt; it was a series of challenges that culminated in
suicide”.

The first reports on this game in British
territory arose after a family mother published in a Facebook group that her
son “had been influenced by this game”. Apparently, the boy would have told his
classmates that “a doll-like creature would kill them in their sleep”.

How does this
challenge work?

According to experts in network security, those
who decide to participate in this challenge receive photographs of highly
explicit content via WhatsApp and, in critical cases, are blackmailed to hurt
themselves, under threat of posting private information in online forums. Some
reports say that Momo may be linked to data
theft
, extortion, harassment, not to mention that it can generate
anxiety, depression, among other disorders.

This challenge would have begun in the state of
Tabasco, Mexico. Participants were challenged to send WhatsApp messages to an
unidentified user, known as “Momo,” reported Mexican authorities.

However, multiple specialists in the field
consider that this challenge is nothing more than a way to extract personal
information from users, mainly for the purpose of blackmailing victims. “Momo
is likely to be operated by hackers seeking to collect personal information,
although this does not mean that parents should not pay attention to what their
children do online”, the British authorities mentioned. “The real danger is
that parents are distracted from the real problems; children also need to know
the risks of sharing their personal information over the Internet”.

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