The Momo raises red flags

Warnings about the viral hoax resurface

Cameron Gray, writer, photographer

This week Hays CISD sent out a district-wide email warning parents about the “Momo Challenge”– putting the spotlight on a viral challenge circulating since summer 2018. And while the district email warns “this latest phenomena is a reminder to continuously reinforce to children the importance of using good judgement online,” the latest media is calling Momo an urban legend and even “fake news.”

“This challenge is about a weird kid voice that tells little kids to do things and if they don’t they will die,” said Hunter Peevey, 10. “I think sending the email to the parents to warn them about this challenge is just going to make someone want to watch it even more than before.”

While viral challenges aren’t new, the Momo Challenge is an exception. The Momo– which features a ghoulish, childlike figure daring a viewer to take on dangerous and even deadly challenges–has spurred an urban legend involving a trap laid in WhatsApp. The warnings are being broadcast worldwide, but so far officials everywhere acknowledge there’s no concrete link between reported deaths and the challenge.

According to a CBS news report, the creepy “Momo” image is from an Instagram account featuring a doll-like sculpture originally created by a Japanese artist but there is no evidence to link the artist or his company.

One message is clear: be vigilant about what kids see online.

YouTube released a statement last week to say it’s not found videos promoting the challenge on its platform.

“After much review, we’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are clearly against our policies, the Momo challenge included,” YouTube said. “Despite press reports of this challenge surfacing, we haven’t had any recent links flagged or shared with us from YouTube that violate our Community Guidelines.”

The district’s recent email pointed to district support:

“You and your children can report bullying, cyberbullying, or personal crisis situations to the Hays Hopeline This system allows you to quickly, easily, and anonymously report safety concerns to school officials.

Your child’s teachers, school counselors, and administrative teams are always available to listen to concerns and help students and families…”