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The 'Momo Challenge': are your children playing it? What you need to know

Posted: 5:47 PM, Sep 12, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-12 17:59:34-04

The Momo Challenge is a new internet challenge that is potentially dangerous for people to play. 

It's a game where people voluntarily text a number associated with the character Momo on WhatsApp. Momo will then respond claiming it knows your secrets and will release them along with pictures of you unless you perform certain tasks. Mosts of those tasks include inflicting self harm. Children and teens are the primary "players" of this game.

The Momo Challenge has school administrators like Dean of Students at the American Academy in Colorado, Robyn Hunt, on edge.

"There's something new everyday that we have to watch for and make sure everybody understands the repercussions behind most of these challenges," she said.

Parents reacted to a post on our WKBW Facebook page saying their children will "not be allowed to have social media due to what is going on." Another parent wrote, "what is wrong with people these days?"

However, this challenge may not be as serious as it appears. The actualy identity of the person behind Momo is unclear. There aren't many documented instances of conversations with Momo online. Youtube bloggers like Reignbot question the validity of this challenge since their are so few recordings of interactions with Momo. In fact, 7 Eyewitness News tried messaging seven different numbers associated with Momo, but none of our messages have been returned.

Plus, the relationship between the statue and actual character is unclear. There is no online documentation of why that image was chosen as the face for the character Momo. The origin of the statue is vague too. It's disputed who actually created the statue: a instagram artist or a special effects company in Japan.

Psafe, an online privacy and sercuity company, worked on identifying who the actual people were behind the numbers. It did not discover their identity, but it did recognize that copycat profiles were created.

"When the Momo image first appeared on social media sites, our dfndr lab security team investigated three known numbers originating from Japan, Mexico, and Colombia. Each number was contacted via WhatsApp, yet our team received no responses. Since then, copycat profiles with Momo images have been created and spread by malicious actors issuing ransomware demands alleging to possess compromising images from Facebook users. All of them were schemes, none of them had any actual compromising images, but the attacks were real and created a lot of stress. Young people also feel peer pressure to play the Momo 'suicide game' and follow their friends. We recommend parents monitor their children's phone activity and maintain open, honest dialogue so kids feel safe to say "no" to peer pressure and participate in more innocuous online activities," CEO Marco DeMello said.

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