Momo challenge shows how even experts are falling for digital hoaxes

“An evil suicide game” was how one newspaper described the “Momo challenge”, a so-called game that supposedly involved children receiving a series of threatening and increasingly dangerous instructions from an anonymous contact on their smartphone. Such sensationalist reporting risked whipping up a frenzied panic, and it soon became apparent there was little evidence the game was real, with one children’s organisation saying it had received more enquiries from the press than from parents.

It’s easy to see why parents would be worried by reports of this purported phenomena, which are accompanied by a particularly creepy image of a doll reminiscent of something from a Japanese horror film. But the Momo challenge is simply the latest digital hoax, an urban legend able to develop and gain momentum because of the sharing of videos, articles and warnings online.

The intention of most people issuing these warnings is usually well-meaning. But the failure of people to identify the hoax, even by those who should have expert insight into whether children really are in danger, helps to create a problem where none really existed. And it’s likely to be worried parents that are harmed as a result rather than their more digital savvy children. ..Read More..

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