A mother in northern California says her autistic 12-year-old daughter was moments away from a deadly outcome after falling victim to the “Momo challenge.”
The “Momo challenge” is a viral internet phenomenon which swept through the messaging app WhatsApp last year and is said to be making the founds again.
Children who participate in the challege are contacted by a creepy stranger called “Momo” who encourages them to participate in a series of tasks to avoid being “cursed,” according to CBS News.
The game ends when Momo tells the participant to kill themselves and make a video of it for social media.
Pearl Woods, who lives in Folsom, told CBS Sacremento that her daughter Zoey was encouraged to turn the kitchen gas stove on without lighting it, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
“Just another minute, she could’ve blown up my apartment, she could’ve hurt herself, other people, beyond scary,” Woods said.
Her daughter told her, “It was Momo making bad videos. It was bad.”
Warnings about the “Momo challenge” have spread like wildfire on the Internet, as anxious parents spread word of concerning videos their children have access to on social media sites, such as YouTube Kids.
A grandmother from Rochelle, Illinois told Eyewitness News that her granddaughter was watching what appeared to be a video clip from the kids’ cartoon “Caillou” when she witnessed Caillou cutting himself with a knife.
“When I turned over, [Caillou] was sitting at a school desk with a knife and had it like this and had actually cut where the blood was coming down,” said Deb Wooten. “The kids were saying ‘do it, do it’.”
“I didn’t know what to do, I was appalled,” said Wooten. “I could not believe what I was seeing.”
YouTube took to Twitter on Thursday to say that they had not seen any evidence of “Momo challenge” videos on its platform, and encouraged parents to report any harmful videos to the service.
We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.— YouTube (@YouTube) February 27, 2019
The creepy “Momo” itself is a sculpture by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa called “Mother Bird.” The sculpture was on display at Tokyo’s horror-art Vanilla Gallery in 2016
Benjamin Radford, a folklorsist and research fellow for the Committee for Skeptic Inquiry told Rolling Stone that trends such as the “Momo challenge,” the “Tide Pod challenge,” or “Cinnamon challenge” are “part of a moral panic, fueled by parents’ fears in wanting to know what their kids are up to.”