No Momo

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Momo (the freaky-looking thing above) is not going to kill you, and is not going to hurt your children. Nor will “Momo” cause your children to hurt themselves. It is simply an online hoax that has spread like crazy, and the army of (usually well-meaning, but often naive) Facebook parents and public-interest agencies such as schools and law-enforcement departments have pushed this particular garbage into the online stratosphere.

Sadly, too many news outlets have been quick to promote information about the Momo hoax WITHOUT bothering to include any background or debunking information – including both KRTV and KFBB here in Great Falls. Both articles are presented as if Momo is real, and both couch their assertions based on Facebook warnings from either the police or a school district.

There are, however, plenty of articles from larger and/or national news outlets debunking Momo; a good one from The Atlantic includes this:

“The Momo challenge wasn’t real then, and it isn’t real now… All of these challenges and trends follow the same formula: A local news station runs a piece overstating a dangerous teen trend. Concerned parents flock to social media to spread the word. Actual teenagers and anyone else who lives their life Extremely Online mock them for their naïveté. Brands and influencers hop on the trend, parodying it and exploiting it for their own gain. And trolls take advantage of those who believe it’s real, often by creating and posting content that seemingly confirms parents’ worst fears.”

From the New York Times: “There are no credible reports of children who have been meaningfully influenced by anyone convincing them to engage with a “Momo Challenge,” or driven to suicide by her likeness appearing in the middle of a Peppa Pig video.”

From Fox News: “The so-called “Momo suicide challenge” is back in the spotlight, despite being widely branded as an elaborate hoax.”

And from Forbes.com: “Evidence of direct harm caused by the game is yet to be found. It is essentially a viral ghost story.”

I understand school agencies and police/Sheriff departments posting warnings about it, but any news outlet that parrots such should be responsible about broadcasting it by including pertinent information, rather than simply fueling the hype and fear.

The bottom line to this nonsense: do not believe that this Momo crap is a genuine threat – but it is always prudent to talk to your young children about online safety, particularly when it comes to readily-accessible videos.

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