By Shannon Rapose
Special to the Sun
If you have been on any form of social media in recent weeks, more than likely you have encountered the haunting images of the character known as “Momo,” who supposedly preys on small children via the Internet. With her creepy birdlike features and bulging eyes, “Momo” has been causing panic in parents around the world… good thing it’s a complete hoax.
For the past couple of months, various news organizations, schools and concerned parents on social media platforms have been sharing detailed warnings about the dangers of the “Momo Challenge,” which theoretically starts with “Momo” contacting children through WhatsApp or interrupting YouTube videos, such as Peppa Pig, telling them to commit violent acts against others or themselves and to submit video evidence as proof.
Feeding on the fears of parents, the viral stories and videos have even attracted the attention of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, who has more than a hundred million followers on Instagram, pleading with YouTube to remove “Momo” content from its site.
Even though there appears to be multiple videos and reports of alleged interactions with “Momo” making their way around the Internet, officials and law enforcement have not been able to authenticate any definite incidents have occurred in connection to the challenge.
Ironically, most “Momo” content is accessed after parents and children are warned about it rather than being organically exposed to it, thus inadvertently encouraging people to seek out the harmful material.
On February 27, YouTube issued a statement on Twitter saying that they hadn’t observed any recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on their site and videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against their policies.
However, with that being said, things do slip through the cracks and inappropriate content can make its way past automated security and monitoring platforms.
According to kidshealth.org, parents should always be aware of what their children are consuming on the Internet, especially who they interact with and what they are sharing about themselves.
Parents are also encouraged to talk with their children and to use different tools, such as setting parental controls on devices, to protect them while they roam the World Wide Web.