The authorities in several nations are urging people to be wary of the disturbing ‘Momo Game’ on WhatsApp after the police in Buenos Aires, Argentina revealed that the suicide of a 12-year-old girl who was found hanging from a tree in her family’s backyard on 22 July could have been motivated to end her life by the messaging craze.
The Buenos Aires Times further reports that the 12-year-old became acquainted with an 18-year-old on WhatsApp prior to her passing, as well. Efforts to locate the teenager are ongoing, according to a police statement: “The phone has been hacked to find footage and WhatsApp chats, and now the alleged adolescent with whom she exchanged those messages is being sought.”
The authorities believe that the teen had a hand in the 12-year-old suicide and added that they suspect that the teenager’s “intention was to upload the video to social media as part of a challenged aimed at crediting the Momo game” for the suicide.
What is the ‘Momo Game’?
The ‘Momo Game’ is a text messaging-based game in which users deliberately contact a “cursed hotline” and are sent disturbing images and messages in return that are supposedly from an entity called ‘Momo’, which also threatens players that it will appear at night or curse them.
The entity also allegedly coerces players into doing dangerous tasks like injuring themselves or share their private information publicly if they refuse to follow its orders.
The creepy ‘Momo’ image is based on a sculpture that is inspired by a Japanese folk tale about an apparition named Ubume. The tale tells the story of a spirit which haunts the area where she gave birth and offers her newborn baby to passersby only for the baby to turn into a heavy stone that crushes the passersby.
Nothing more than a viral hoax
The authorities in Mexico and Spain have highlighted that the ‘game’ is nothing more than a viral hoax that could leave players at risk to hacking and blackmailing.
While Spain’s National Police have urged users to “Forget about absurd virals that are fashionable on Whatsapp,” Mexico’s Unit of Investigation of Cyber Crimes warned people not to converse with strangers online and noted, “Morbid curiosity or wanting to be popular, has led many young people to perform acts where they risk their lives.”