Momo challenge: how the viral hoax took on a life of its own

This article appeared in The Irish Times on 2nd March 2019.

By now, most people will have heard of the “Momo challenge.” The game allegedly encourages children and young people to contact an unknown number via WhatsApp, where they are then be tasked with a series of challenges by an anonymous user.

Reporting around the Momo challenge has suggested that children may be told to harm themselves and, in some instances, even attempt suicide by the game. It is accompanied by a hard-to-forget image of a woman with bulging eyes and a wide smile.

The Momo challenge has led to something of a panic – a response that would be justified if there was any hard evidence to prove that it is real. Despite a lack of proof, schools and even police forces have waded into the conversation, to warn parents to be hypervigilant of the frightening image – which is actually a photograph of a Japanese artwork.

The rest of this article can be read on the Irish Times website here.

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