- The Momo challenge, a viral hoax sweeping the internet, encourages kids to speak to “momo” via WhatsApp.
- Momo allegedly tells people to do dangerous things, including self-harm.
- Momo has also reportedly been found in YouTube videos targeted towards children, concerning parents.
What is the Momo Challenge?
A viral game called the Momo challenge is spreading around the internet and worrying parents.
The Momo challenge, which is widely known to be a hoax, is popular among young teens and children. It involves this image, depicted below, which is known to those who participate as Momo. The Momo image is actually a statue made by a Japanese artist, and it is not known how it came to be attached to the Momo challenge.
Those who have participated claim that Momo can be reached by texting a certain number on WhatsApp. However, most people who text the rumored numbers that connect to Momo don’t actually get a response.
However, those who do say they reached Momo, claim that they receive incredibly creepy messages and photos. Momo claims to know personal information about the texter, and then encourages the texter to do dangerous activities and record themselves doing it for proof. Some of these activities can allegedly include acts of self-harm and suicide.
Popularity in July
Momo rose to popularity in July, 2018, which is when many initially deemed it a hoax. ReignBot, a YouTuber who often posts content exploring creepy trends, made a video diving into it.
In her video, she claimed that there are three numbers that people use to contact Momo. One of which was Japanese, another Mexican, and another Colombian. However, even the Japanese number, which was the most popular, could communicate in Spanish, making it very popular in Spanish-speaking countries.
ReignBot ultimately chalked Momo up to be a viral urban legend, as it is hard to find examples or screenshots of “real” interactions with Momo.
However, in August police in Argentina investigated whether or not Momo had anything to do with a 12-year-old girl’s suicide. Additionally, the deaths of two people in India, as well as the deaths of two children in Colombia were reportedly linked to Momo. However, the ties were never definitively proven in any of these cases.
BBC also reported that hackers could be behind Momo, using it to get texters’ information, but that has not been confirmed either.
Momo Allegedly Found in Children’s Content
Now, Momo is riding a second wave of popularity, as the hoax has spread, specifically on YouTube. Some have reported that clips of Momo are appearing in videos on YouTube and YouTube Kids.
The videos specifically sited appear to be episodes of Peppa Pig and Fortnite videos. The thumbnails for these videos appear to be safe, and they begin with kid-friendly content, but partway through, Momo shows up.
The images and clips can reportedly be gory, violent, and threatening, and terrify children who see them.
A Facebook post by Amyre Shonny on Tuesday went viral, and stated that parents should be “very cautious of what our child watches on YouTube and KIDS YOUTUBE.”
Other parents have shared the post, and claimed they will no longer allow their children to watch YouTube.
This follows another controversy on YouTube, where clips giving instructions as to how to commit acts of self-harm have been found in children’s videos. Right now, it is unclear if these two are related.
Schools and police departments have issued warnings about this. The Police Service of Northern Ireland said:
“Our advice as always, is to supervise the games your kids play and be extremely mindful of the videos they are watching on YouTube. Ensure that the devices they have access to are restricted to age suitable content.”
Kim Kardashian also joined the conversation by posting on her Instagram story on Tuesday night asking YouTube to “please help.”
YouTube gave a statement to CBS on Tuesday, where they said they remove content related to the Momo challenge.
“Our Community Guidelines prohibit harmful and dangerous challenges, including promoting the Momo challenge, and we remove this content quickly when flagged to us.”
Even with this new wave, Momo is still a known hoax and many think that parents are overreacting now.
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.