Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

16.50 28 Feb 2019


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The so-called 'Momo challenge' has been described as 'fake news' and a hoax.

A number of organisations are downplaying the risk of the challenge after mounting reports about it.

Several organisations around the world have issued warnings about the social media game in recent weeks, prompting widespread media coverage.

According to typical reports, children are contacted on WhatsApp by a user called Momo - typically portrayed as a creepy doll

Momo then 'dares' the individual to take part in a series of tasks - with claims these dares build to violent attacks and self-harm.

It's led to some schools warning parents about the dangers posed by the challenge, sometimes citing additional dramatic claims about the 'game'.

While reports have been circulating since last year, they gained increased prominence when the PSNI issued a public warning last week.

They shared it on Facebook with the message "suicide game targeting our kids".

The PSNI claimed: "This game conceals itself within other harmless looking games played by our kids!

"There has also been reports of parts of the game being viewable on YouTube."

Rumours

However, there have been few if any cases where a definitive link has been established between the apparent challenge and cases of actual harm.

In a Guardian article, several charities UKĀ warned that widespread reports and warnings could cause a 'moral panic' and create a risk for vulnerable people.

According to fact-checking website Snopes: "Word of the Momo challenge is now so widespread that whether or not it represents a real threat, the subject has generated rumours that in themselves can be cause for concern among children."

The picture of Momo itself is one of a statue created by a Japanese special effects company.

Here in Ireland, the former Communications Minister Denis Naughten insists the Momo challenge is 'fake news'.

The Roscommon Galway Independent TD told Midlands 130: "This is coming from some very reputable organisations across Europe.

"They have no evidence that this is actually happening.

"If there is evidence, or parents do come across evidence, then it is important that they would contact the authorities in relation to this."

Despite the suggestions the Momo situation has been exaggerated, parents are still being urged to be more generally vigilant when it comes to their children's online activity.


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