Facebook says no reports about Momo challenge in Ireland
Social networking giant says it will remove content that promotes the phenomenon
According to some reports, phone users are encouraged to make contact with someone named ‘Momo’ on the WhatsApp messaging platform.
Facebook has said it has received no reports about the so-called Momo challenge in Ireland.
A spokeswoman for the social networking giant said the company was “aware of recent press coverage about the ‘Momo’ challenge in Ireland but we have not received reports about it from users, through our in-app reporting channels”.
The online phenomenon has reportedly started appearing on social media platforms in Ireland in recent days.
According to some reports, phone users are encouraged to make contact with someone named ‘Momo’ on the WhatsApp messaging platform. The individual is then supposedly sent graphic threats and told to perform dangerous tasks to prevent harm coming to themselves or their families.
The Facebook spokeswoman continued: “In accordance with our community standards, we remove content that promotes or glorifies suicide or self-ham, and our teams remain vigilant for these types of reports.”
“We will remove content that promotes or glorifies the ‘Momo’ challenge.”
While the existence of the game, and risks arising from it, cannot be discounted, experts have urged caution, warning that there is a risk of hysteria and moral panic emerging around such perceived online threats to children, often with little evidence to substantiate the risk.
In a blog post on the website of the London School of Economics, technology journalist and internet safety advocate Larry Magid wrote that there are risks of child and teen suicide associated with the inappropriate use of technology, “but every day hundreds of millions of children and teens pick up their smartphones or access websites without horrible consequences”.
“One tragedy is, of course, one tragedy too many, but panic, fake stories and exaggeration do nothing to make our children safer but instead have been found to increase risk,” he wrote.
The Garda and PSNI expressed concern on Monday about the Momo challenge. A Garda spokesman said the force was aware of reports that it was circulating in Ireland but stressed that no complaints had been made to the authorities. The Garda said that parents need to take an active role in what their children were doing and seeing on the internet.
Detective Sergeant Elaine McCormill of the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch also said that no official reports had been made about the challenge, adding that the PSNI was liaising with other UK police services “to try to identify the extent of the problem and to look for opportunities to deal with this issue”. She described it as an “extremely disturbing challenge”.