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HandWiki. Momo Challenge Hoax. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 18 April 2024).
HandWiki. Momo Challenge Hoax. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 18, 2024.
HandWiki. "Momo Challenge Hoax" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 18, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 30). Momo Challenge Hoax. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Momo Challenge Hoax." Encyclopedia. Web. 30 November, 2022.
Momo Challenge Hoax

The "Momo Challenge" was a hoax and an Internet urban legend about a nonexistent social media challenge that was spread on Facebook and other media outlets. It was reported that children and adolescents were being enticed by a user named Momo to perform a series of dangerous tasks including violent attacks, self-harm and suicide. Despite claims that the phenomenon had reached worldwide proportions in July 2018, the number of actual complaints was relatively small and no law enforcement agency has confirmed that anyone was harmed as a direct result of it. Concern and distress registered by children was primarily driven by media reports rather than as a result of "Momo", leading children's charities to view warnings against the alleged phenomenon as causing more harm than good by leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy which may encourage children to look up violent material on the Internet. The challenge was reported to become "a worldwide phenomenon" in 2018 after an Indonesian newspaper reported that it had caused a 12-year-old girl to kill herself. Awareness grew in February 2019 after the Police Service of Northern Ireland posted a public warning on Facebook, and American media personality Kim Kardashian posted on her Instagram Story pleading for YouTube to remove alleged "Momo" videos.

social media children and adolescents children

1. Background and Reactions

The Momo Challenge gained the public's attention in July 2018, when it was noticed by a YouTuber, ReignBot.[1] Targeting teenagers, people presenting themselves as a character named Momo on WhatsApp messages try to convince people to contact them through their cell phone. As with other Internet hoaxes presented as challenges such as "Blue Whale", players are then instructed to perform a succession of tasks, refusal to do so is met with threats. Messages are subsequently accompanied by frightening or gory pictures.[2][3][4] Although the panic eventually died down throughout the rest of 2018, it returned in a much more pervasive form in early 2019, when it was claimed that Momo was being inserted into seemingly innocuous YouTube and YouTube Kids videos about Peppa Pig and Fortnite; these claims were repeated by the group National Online Safety.[5][6][7]

Although authorities have not confirmed any physical harm resulting from this, or even that a sustained exchange of messages took place between the Momo character and anybody, police forces and school administrations on several continents have issued warnings about the Momo Challenge and repeated common advice about Internet safety. WhatsApp is encouraging its users to block phone numbers engaging in this practice and to report them to the company.[2][8]

Commenting on the numerous rumours of suicide related to the Momo Challenge, web security experts and folklorists studying urban legend have stated that the phenomenon is likely a case of moral panic: a sensationalized hoax fuelled by unverified media reports.[9][10] Benjamin Radford says "the Blue Whale Game and the Momo Challenge have all the hallmarks of a classic moral panic",[11] "fuelled by parents' fears in wanting to know what their kids are up to. There's an inherent fear in what young people are doing with technology."[5][12] By September 2018, most phone numbers supposedly associated with "Momo" were out of service.[13][14][15][16] The founder of fact-checking site Snopes, David Mikkelson, doubts anybody actually came to any harm and said the whole thing "may primarily be a product of bullies and pranksters latching onto a handy mechanism to goad and torment vulnerable youngsters rather than an intrinsic part of a particular social media challenge."[17]

In response to the reports in early 2019, YouTube has said that it has "not received any links to videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube" but permits news stories and videos intended to raise awareness of and educate against the alleged phenomenon.[7] The website has demonetized all videos mentioning Momo, including those of news organizations, saying such content violates its advertiser-friendly content guidelines. It has also placed advisory warnings on some Momo videos alerting viewers of "inappropriate or offensive" content.[18]

2. Spread

2.1. Asia

In India , the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in West Bengal indicated on August 29, 2018, that claims reported in the media about the death of two teens being linked to the Momo Challenge were "far fetched and devoid of any evidence". CID believes most of the large volume of Momo Challenge invitations in India originate locally as pranks sent to spread panic. A CID spokesperson stated that "so far, the game has not claimed any victim, nor has anyone approached us saying they have played even the first level of it."[1] The CID statement follows weeks of news coverage about unconfirmed cases. After being alerted by a youth who received a Momo Challenge invitation, police in West Bengal issued a warning, and the cybercrime unit has opened an investigation. The Mumbai police had previously started to warn the population, although no complaints were filed.[19][20][21][22] Police have not confirmed any role the Momo Challenge might have played in the death of a girl in grade 10 who committed suicide after leaving a note expressing discouragement with low grades or the suicide of an engineering student in Chennai.[23][24][25] The Odisha Police, while issuing an advisory, are asking the media to refrain from publishing unconfirmed reports linking teen death to the Momo Challenge.[26]

Pakistan 's Minister of Information Technology announced the government intends to draft legislation making it a crime to distribute both the Momo Challenge and the Blue Whale Challenge.[27][28]

Police authorities in the Philippines issued warnings to parents to be vigilant of their children's online activity after an 11-year-old boy died from apparent suicide by drug overdose on 11 January 2019, linking the incident to the viral challenge, although no official confirmation of direct relation to the incident has been established by the authorities.[29][30] In the aftermath of the reports, Raffy Tulfo and other YouTubers voiced their condolences to the family, encouraging that children be monitored by their parents. They also linked the Blue Whale Challenge to the incident.[31][32]

2.2. Europe

In France , a group at the State Department was reviewing the situation daily in late July 2018.[33] A complaint was filed in November by a father whose son committed suicide.[34]

In Germany , the police were only aware of mentions made in chain letters. They are asking the population to act prudently when faced with that kind of cell phone contact.[35]

The Luxembourg police confirmed one case on its territory, but no harm was caused.[36]

The Belgian Public Prosecutor's Office reported on 6 November 2018 that a 13-year-old boy had been the victim of the Momo Challenge and hung himself.[37]

Spain 's National Police warned people to stay away from new "challenge" applications that pop up on WhatsApp, indicating the Momo phenomenon was in vogue among teenagers.[38]

In the United Kingdom , some school administrations relayed warnings about the phenomenon.[8] Reports on and awareness of the alleged challenge rose in February 2019 after the Police Service of Northern Ireland issued a public warning.[5] British authorities say the challenge is being used by cybercriminals to gain personal identity information.[7] Responding to tabloid coverage which asserted the challenge to be true, the NSPCC, the Samaritans, and the UK Safer Internet Centre have issued statements that the Momo Challenge is a hoax.[39][40] The parent who alerted the press to the Momo Challenge subsequently said her child had not received messages from "Momo", but was merely told about it in a school playground conversation.[17] Nevertheless, authorities and the media issued online safety precautions. Nicola Harteveld (who said her son was targeted by the challenge) and clinical psychologist Anna Colton warned on ITV's daytime TV show This Morning not to search for Momo online, and advised parents to be aware of their children's activity online.[41]

2.3. North America

In the Canada province of Quebec, local police forces of Longueuil, Sherbrooke and Gatineau have indicated that people in their jurisdiction have been approached to participate in the Momo Challenge but did not report any victims. They are asking people not to use the phone number provided in the WhatsApp messages and to send screen capture images of their phone to police authorities. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other police forces say they are monitoring the spread of the phenomenon but could not confirm any actual victim.[42][43][44]

Mexican authorities investigating Internet crimes distributed detailed information to parents about the methods of the scheme. They suspect it has spread through a Facebook group frequented by young people. They warned those caught in the scheme risked self-harm, hacking and extortion.[3][45]

In early August 2018 in the United States , various local police forces warned the population about the dangers of the phenomenon. Some jurisdictions have received several complaints, but no jurisdiction reported anybody being harmed.[46] The Momo character has also appeared in the popular game Minecraft in the form of in-game skins and unofficial mods created by the game's users. A police officer in Ohio was concerned to see Momo in his son's copy of the game, worried about the possibility that the mod could lead to participation in the Momo Challenge. After news reports started to outline the link between the Minecraft mod and the Momo Challenge, Microsoft announced it was taking measures to "restrict access to the mod" in question.[47][48]

2.4. South America

In Argentina , despite several media reports tentatively establishing a relationship between the Momo Challenge and the suicide of a 12-year-old girl from Ingeniero Maschwitz, no link has been confirmed by authorities.[3][4][49]

Authorities in Brazil have not confirmed any case linked to the Momo Challenge. The national SaferNet non-profit organization has been approached by concerned parents and warned that this is only one of a variety of schemes to extort money and information from people.[38]

The Colombian police have not confirmed news reports linking the death of two youths in Barbosa to the Momo Challenge in early September.[50]

3. Picture

Early news reports stating the image of Momo was of a sculpture by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi turned out to be incorrect. Hayashi indicated that it was not her piece, and Internet users identified Link Factory, a Japanese special effects company, as the correct author of the sculpture.[45]

The sculpture has bulging eyes and a beak-like mouth. Pictures of the sculpture were first posted online in 2016, when it was publicly exhibited.[3][45] The remainder of the sculpture, not always shown by "Momo" accounts of the media, consists of a small, bald, chicken-like body with avian feet and human breasts.[51] A photograph of a sculpture of an ubume (a yōkai or ghost) was popularly used to depict Momo.[51] The firm denies any involvement with the hoax. Japanese artist Keisuke Aiso confirmed in March 2019 that the sculpture had been thrown away in 2018, after its material—natural rubber and plant oils—had decomposed.[52][53]

4. In Popular Culture

Video games based on the Momo Challenge has been published by various independent developers; in July 2018 by SirFatCat[54] and Indie_RU,[55] in August 2018 by Dymchick1[56] and in October 2018 by Caffeine.[57] The player has to do various tasks and the goal is usually to survive before getting rescued.

The Momo Challenge will be used as a plot device in an upcoming teen horror film called Getaway, produced by Emagine Content, November 11 Pictures, SorenFilms Productions and Lady of the Light Productions. Stef Beaton, Alex Brown, Georgie Storm Waite, Rianne Sensing and Charlotte Spencer will play hapless youths who experience strange phenomena after one of them tells a story about Momo.[58]

In July 2019, Orion Pictures announced the development of a film adaptation, with producers Roy Lee (with his production company Vertigo Entertainment), and Taka Ichise.[59]


  1. "CID: Momo Challenge invites locally generated". The India Times. August 29, 2018. 
  2. Rogers, James (August 2, 2018). "Sinister 'Momo suicide challenge' sparks fear as it spreads on WhatsApp". Fox News. 
  3. Noble, Freya (August 2, 2018). "What is Momo? Terrifying 'challenge' linked to 12-year-old's suicide". 9 News. 
  4. "Police suspect 12-year-old girl's suicide linked to WhatsApp terror game Momo". Buenos Aires Times. July 25, 2018. 
  5. Ej Dickson (26 February 2019). "What Is the Momo Challenge?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 February 2019. 
  6. Sophie Lewis (28 February 2019). "Kim Kardashian warns parents of "Momo challenge," but YouTube says it sees no evidence". CBS News. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  7. "CID: Momo Challenge invites locally generated". The India Times. August 29, 2018.
  8. Dunning, Daniel (February 22, 2019). "York school warning over internet Momo character". 
  9. Lorenz, Taylor (February 28, 2019). "Momo Is Not Trying to Kill Children". 
  10. "Satanic Panic 2.0: The Momo Challenge hoax [TW: Self-harm/suicide"] (in en-US). 
  11. Radford, Benjamin (February 27, 2019). "The 'Momo Challenge' and the 'Blue Whale Game': Online Suicide Game Conspiracies". 
  12. Lloyd, Brian (January 22, 2019). "The 'Momo' Challenge is a perfect example of moral panic in the age of social media". 
  13. Magid, Larry (September 21, 2018). "Dire warnings about children dying because of apps and games are a form of 'juvenoia'". 
  14. "Achtung HOAX! Gruselige Nachrichten von Momo" (in german). July 26, 2018. 
  15. Audureau, William (September 18, 2018). "" Momo Challenge " sur WhatsApp : itinéraire d’une psychose collective" (in French). Le Monde. 
  16. Chiu, Allyson (September 5, 2018). "The 'Momo Challenge': A sinister threat to young people or an urban myth?". The Washington Post. 
  17. Mikkleson, David (February 26, 2019). "How Much of a Threat Is the Purported 'Momo Challenge' Suicide Game?". 
  18. Alexander, Julia (1 March 2019). "YouTube is demonetizing all videos about Momo". The Verge. Retrieved 7 March 2019. 
  19. Ghosh, Dwaypayan (August 23, 2018). "Cop alert against Momo Challenge". The Times of India. 
  20. "Jalpaiguri college girl invited to play virtual suicide game Momo Challenge, files police complaint". Hindustan Times. August 22, 2018. 
  21. "West Bengal Girl Gets Call For New Suicide Game "Momo Challenge"". Press Trust of India. August 22, 2018. 
  22. "Say No No to MoMo: Mumbai Police issues warning against deadly Momo Challenge". The Indian Express. August 19, 2018. 
  23. "Momo challenge claims first life in India, Class 10 student commits suicide in Ajmer". Mirror Now News. August 21, 2018. 
  24. "Engineering student commits suicide, was playing 'Momo Challenge'". The Statesman. September 1, 2018. 
  25. Patnaik, Devbrat (September 5, 2018). "Momo Challenge: Family Blames Momo After Youth Commits Suicide". OdishaTV. 
  26. "Odisha Police issues advisory on deadly 'Momo Challenge' game". The Statesman. September 5, 2018. 
  27. "Pakistan says no space for Blue Whale, Momo challenge". Pakistan Today. September 2, 2018. 
  28. "Blue Whale and Momo challenge banned in Pakistan". The Tribune. September 2, 2018. 
  29. Jeck Batallones; Raffy Santos (27 February 2019). "Online challenge, tinitingnan sa kaso ng batang namatay sa overdose" (in Filipino). ABS-CBN News. 
  30. "Filipino mom flags daughter's 'disturbing' act amid Youtube addiction". ABS-CBN News. 27 February 2019. 
  32. Wag mong gagawin ang BLUE WHALE at MOMO CHALLENGE. Claro the Third. February 28, 2019.
  33. de Fournas, Marie (August 20, 2018). "Quels sont les véritables risques qui entourent le "Momo Challenge"?" (in French). 20 Minutes. 
  34. "" Momo challenge " : un père porte plainte contre YouTube, WhatsApp et l’Etat" (in fr-FR). Le 
  35. Rohlefer, Franz (August 18, 2018). ""Momo"-Challenge bei WhatsApp: Polizei warnt vor Selbstmord-Spiel" (in German). Merkur. 
  36. "Le "Momo Challenge" est arrivé au Luxembourg" (in French). Le Quotidien. August 18, 2018. 
  37. "Momo Challenge": Kein Fall in Luxemburg. Luxemburger Wort, 6. November 2018.
  38. "O que é a 'Momo do WhatsApp' e quais são os riscos que ela representa?" (in Portuguese). BBC News (Portuguese edition). July 26, 2018. 
  39. "NSPCC says no need to be concerned about Momo". March 1, 2019. 
  40. Waterson, Jim (February 28, 2019). "Viral 'Momo challenge' is a malicious hoax, say charities". 
  41. This Morning (2019-02-28), The Momo Challenge That's Terrifying Parents,, retrieved 2019-03-01 
  42. "Le "Momo challenge" cible des jeunes à Longueuil" (in French). La Presse / Presse canadienne. August 18, 2018. 
  43. Pion, Isabelle (August 20, 2018). "Momo Challenge atteint l'Estrie" (in French). La tribune. 
  44. "Gatineau police, experts warn about 'Momo Challenge'". CBC News. August 20, 2018. 
  45. Dube Dwilson, Stephanie (August 6, 2018). "Momo Challenge: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. 
  46. Nguyen, Em (August 6, 2018). "Warning to local parents about "Momo Suicide Challenge"". Fox News Illinois. 
  47. Webb, Sam (August 17, 2018). "Sick WhatsApp 'Momo suicide game' spreads throughout the internet". Fox News. 
  48. Rogers, James (July 18, 2018). "Microsoft clamps down on sick 'Momo suicide game' in 'Minecraft'". Fox News. 
  49. "Neuquén: denuncian que el "Juego del Momo" amenazó a una adolescente" (in Spanish). Diaro Popular. July 31, 2018. 
  50. Warren, Steve (September 4, 2018). "Sinister 'Momo' Online Game Linked to Children's Suicides in Colombia". CBN News. 
  51. "MOTHER-BIRD by #LinkFactory/#KeisukeAisawa (2016, On Display at @vanillagallery_jp) #BetweenMirrors" (in English, Japanese). 15 July 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018. "LINK FACTORY謹製姑獲鳥と一緒に写真を撮ろう!こちらの作品は攝影可能です!! とびっきりのスマイルでハイ、チーズ!" 
  52. "'Momo' sculptor has thrown away creation, feels 'responsible' for fake challenge". Retrieved March 5, 2019. 
  53. Dickson, EJ (March 4, 2019). "‘Momo Challenge’ Sculpture Has Been Destroyed". Rolling Stones. 
  54. "Momo" (in en). 
  55. "Game Jolt - Indie games for the love of it" (in en). 
  56. "MOMO.EXE on Steam" (in en). 
  57. "The Momo Game on Steam" (in en). 
  58. N'Duka, Amanda (May 14, 2019). "Lance Reddick Joins ‘Faith Based’; Rapper YG Cast In ‘Tuscaloosa’; ‘Getaway’ Horror Film Sets Cast". 
  59. Boucher, Geoff. "Remember Momo? Orion Pictures Adapting Viral Hoax As A Horror Film". Retrieved 18 September 2019. 
Subjects: Cultural Studies
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