What is the Momo challenge? Are the videos dangerous? How is Peppa Pig involved?

27 February 2019, 13:33 | Updated: 27 February 2019, 14:36

What is the Momo challenge? Are the videos dangerous? How is Peppa Pig involved?
What is the Momo challenge? Are the videos dangerous? How is Peppa Pig involved? Picture: YouTube

By Sam Prance

Momo is a disturbing new viral challenge that's allegedly encouraging children to self-harm via Peppa Pig and Fortnite...

WARNING: SOME READERS MAY FIND ASPECTS OF THIS ARTICLE UPSETTING

The internet is pretty consistent when it comes to creating new challenges and memes that take over the world. However, every now and then, challenges get dangerous and this latest one is not only disturbing but it seems to be actively targeting children.

Reports have surfaced that a figure called Momo is appearing in children's videos, such as Peppa Pig on YouTube, and video games, such as Fortnite online, and it's encouraging people to text a number on Whatsapp. Numbers attributed to Momo are also being spread in Facebook groups.

People masquerading as Momo then allegedly give the people who text them a series of tasks to complete. These tasks are said to involve everything from watching horror films to actual self-harm. Some people are even saying that Momo has been telling children to turn on the gas in their homes. Videos of Momo threatening to kill people have also emerged.

Further insight into the Momo challenge.

It's terrifying and it's understandable that people are concerned, particularly seeing as trolls are allegedly editing Momo clips into the likes of Peppa Pig and Fortnite. Over the past few weeks many parents have taken to social media to warn others about Momo and make sure that they are having conversations with their children about the media they are consuming.

What is Momo though and how did the challenge start?

The origin of Momo actually has nothing to do with the challenge. Momo is based on a sculpture created by Keisuke Aisawa of the Link Factory in Japan. The company is known for designing props for horror films. The sculpture was never knowingly used in any films but it was featured in a Vanilla Gallery show in Tokyo in 2016. The actual statue has bird claws instead of a body.

Photos of the sculpture went viral on Reddit in 2018 and reportedly evolved into a challenge in the Spanish-speaking world. According to Mexican authorities, the challenge started in a Facebook group after people attributed the name Momo to the statue and passed round numbers, via which people could text Momo. Momo would then give them "suicidal" instructions.

The Momo challenge then gained global traction in July 2018 when YouTuber ReignBot shared a video explaining what the challenge is. That same month Buenos Aires Times reported that a 12 year old girl's suicide in Buenos Aries' was linked to the challenge.

Why is Momo causing so much controversy right now?

We have become increasingly aware of highly inappropriate videos circulating online and are being viewed by children...

Posted by Haslingden Primary School on Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The challenge appears to be gaining newfound attention because it is, as we've already mentioned, reportedly being edited into children's entertainment. It also seems to have spread to the UK. Haslingden Primary School near Manchester recently sent out a warning to parents on Facebook and a British mum revealed to the Daily Mail that her son had been affected by Momo.

“He showed me an image of the [Momo] face on my phone and said that she had told him to go into the kitchen drawer and take out a knife and put it into his neck,” Dixon told the newspaper. “We’ve told him it’s a load of rubbish and there are bad people out there who do bad things but it’s frightening, really frightening … He was terrified and wouldn’t sleep in his own bed.”

Like most viral challenges there is no simple way to stop it but we recommend that you be wary of the content you and any children you know are exposed to. Not only that but we suggest that you report any dangerous Momo videos you see on YouTube or elsewhere and flag any suspicious Facebook groups.

If you or anyone you know is experienceing a crisis you can call Samaritans via 116 123 in the UK and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 in the US.