On the eve of back-to-school, the member of parliament of The Republic on (LREM), Gabriel Attal, wanted to pull the alarm bell on what he considers to be a “phenomenon mediated by social networks”. In a question sent on Thursday to the minister of the Interior, the spokesman LREM referred to the “Momo Challenge”, a practice which, according to him, “performing a psychological pressure on the young ones and puts them in danger by forcing them to make the challenges more dangerous.” With BFMTV, the elected claims to have been alerted by a family in his constituency whose son would have participated in this mysterious game.
The Express goes back to the thread of this phenomenon of cyberbullying, the scope of which is difficult to gauge and whose mechanisms are hard to specify: we do not know ultimately very little, due to lack of evidence.
“The story started in a group on Facebook”
The term “Momo challenge” is mentioned as early as the 11th of July in a video (view from more than 2 million people) of the youtubeuse ReignBoy.
She talks of his discovery, after having entered on the application Whatsapp is a phone number found on Facebook. The profile of a terrifying creature appears under the name of “Momo”. Several internet users, who allegedly tried to get in contact with this account, are said to have received insults and harassing images in turn, explains the youtubeuse.
the next day, in a message of prevention, the investigative unit on cyber-crime of the State of Tabasco, Mexico, warns against this “new game became viral”.
police describe the same scene, photos : “On the social networks, circulating the photo of a woman looking terrifying. It is called “Momo” and invites those who see it to write him per Whatsapp”.
The cyberenquêteurs mexicans also give details on the genesis of this “game”. “The story began in a group on Facebook in which members have been challenged to establish a communication with an unknown number.” This number would be assigned to a certain “Momo”, which would “by violent images and aggressive”. For some users, things would have gone a step further. Some claim to have received “threats and personal information” about them, point to the police. They fear that “criminals” to be able to use this means in order to “steal information”, “inciting to suicide” or “extort funds”.
Who is Momo ?
No identity has, to this day, could be related to this “Momo” and the first number that is associated with it is no longer active since the 11th of July, reported several media. Only the image used by the user has been able to be traced. This photo of a person with brown eyes bulging, emaciated smile and deformed comes from an account Instagram. It is, in fact, a work of art, photographed at his exhibition in a museum in japan in 2016.
the authorities of The different countries concerned by this phenomenon, consider that many people to be hiding in fact behind the profiles that display this photo in the avatar. Some of them would have taken on the role of “Momo” for fun with their friends, for others, the motives are more nebulous. Multiple phone numbers associated with these accounts have the area codes in Japan, Mexico or even Colombia, is believed to know the site actu argentina El ciudadano.
A suicide linked to the “Momo challenge”?
The revelations of the investigative unit on cyber crime, mexican are cause for concern… but on what is based ? When the July 12, a user asks this cell of the police on the number of identified victims, their response on Twitter is without appeal : “No.”
Two weeks later, on 25 July, a new mention of the “Momo Challenge”. This time, the facts as described by the Buenos Aires Times are dramatic. According to the argentine newspaper, an investigation was initiated after the suicide of a young girl of 12 years. The investigators, who had access to his conversations on Whatsapp, fear that Selene has been forced to hang himself by one user 18 years of age, with whom she was in contact.
The latter -which has not yet been found – could have been instructions to turn, with his phone, a video of his last moments, by indicating steps to follow, also tells the local newspaper Diario popular. According to the police officers interviewed by the daily, the young victim would have been able to publish this video on social networks, to meet the challenges of this Momo challenge”.
Should we see in this suicide the first death linked to this “game” enigmatic ? The investigators argentines are very cautious and prefer to evoke several ideas : the autopsy of the girl revealed that she had suffered sexual abuse, reveals, as of July 26, the newspaper Diario jornada.
A string of messages in Germany
a Few days later, another suicide teenage argentine is involved in the city of Zapala. Very quickly, local media revved up, claim that it is linked to the “Momo Challenge”… before rétropédaler. But the topic of this “challenge” became a media and viral. Yet, we hardly at this day to find testimonies, and the veracity of the few screenshots of the existing -state of conversations with a person claiming to be a “Momo”- is impossible to confirm.
nevertheless, There are plusieurs reports. At the end of the month of July, in Argentina, a father of a family of the province of Neuquen, argentina ensures that his 15 year old daughter has been contacted by a certain “Momo” wrote the Diario popular. The teenager would have received from this person death threats and accurate information on the members of his entourage, accompanied by photos of people who have died. The findings of the investigation have not been made public to this day.
In Germany, a journalist has also insured on a tv set that her daughter had been faced with this “challenge”. “She has received a string of messages really scary on WhatsApp,” said the 21 August Eva Grünbauer. This “Momo” would require the recipients of these writings to forward it to “15 contacts”, under the penalty of dying, as noted by the German website Merkur.
“we need to talk about it, for the parents to have in mind that this exists”
therefore, what to do? In several countries, such as France, Canada or Luxembourg, the authorities say will be seized of the matter, without having received notification. The two police services of france, contacted by The Express, confirmed to be on standby on this topic, however, ensures one of them, “we have not received any complaint for facts related to this phenomenon to date.” No reports on the platform, Pharos, to report suspicious content, nor is it to identify. “It is necessary, nevertheless, to speak, for the parents to have in mind that it exists. We will conduct awareness campaigns from the start,” said one of the officers asked.
With the site 20 Minutes, the Interior ministry has also confirmed that if “the phenomenon has not spread on the territory”, it is “taken seriously” by its services.
The Spanish police took it, slotted a tweet of prevention, as early as 19 July, wondering if it was a “joke” of an “attack of cybercriminal”.
In Luxembourg, “the phenomenon happened”, also note the authorities. However, to his knowledge, only one case has been reported, but “no complaint has been filed and there were no injuries”, said a spokesman of the police of the Grand Duchy to RTL.
The direction of the messaging WhatsApp, which is the main affected by this “Momo Game”, has not been slow to respond. With the american channel Fox News, a spokesperson tells the potential victims of this phenomenon, “it is easy to block any phone number on WhatsApp”. “We also encourage users to inform us of the problematic messages”, he adds.
Since its media coverage, some connoisseurs of the “Momo Challenge” compare it to another phenomenon as viral as morbid, the “Blue Whale Challenge”. This challenge was born in Russia, surrounded by also many rumors, there had been no casualties in France, but had attracted a wide attention of the authorities.