A disturbing game, reportedly involving a ‘suicide challenge’, was being shared on WhatsApp and Facebook along with the image of a very creepy doll.
It was called ‘Momo’, and linked back to several social media accounts which challenged people to communicate with an unknown number. The communications then became progressively twisted and threatening in nature.
While you would hope the dark game was merely viral marketing for a new horror film, unfortunately it was a lot more serious than that.
According to the Buenos Aires Times police are linking the disturbing game to the death of a 12-year-old girl in Argentina. They are looking for the person behind ‘Momo’, but have had trouble singling them out.
1- Birçok çocuğun intihar etmesine neden olan Mavi Balina oyunundan sonra bu sefer de ‘Momo’ adlı yeni bir oyun ortaya çıktı. WhatsApp üzerinden yayılan oyun gençlere şiddet içerikli fotoğraflar ve tehdit içeren mesajlar gönderiyor. pic.twitter.com/Rk20iLsH7s
— Zet Lorento (@Zetgel24) July 31, 2018
Tragically, the young girl took her own life after filming a video on her phone. Her mobile was found nearby and police suspect someone encouraged her to do it.
In a statement, police said:
The phone has been hacked to find footage and WhatsApp chats, and now the alleged adolescent with whom she exchanged those messages is being sought.
The police also believe the girl’s intention ‘was to upload the video to social media as part of a challenged aimed at crediting the Momo game’.
8- Reddit'te konuyla ilgili en popüler mesaj ''İspanyolca konuşulan ülkelerden birinden bir kişi, Instagram'dan bir fotoğraf keserek bununla bir WhatsApp kullanıcısı yarattı. Bu profilden kişiler tehdit ediliyor ve şantaja uğruyorlar.'' Bazıları Momo'yu çözdüğünü de söylüyor. pic.twitter.com/Of2iKyoeHA
— Zet Lorento (@Zetgel24) July 31, 2018
In order to spread awareness about the dangers of the game, the Computer Crime Investigation Unit of the State of Tabasco, Mexico, posted a series of tweets explaining the disturbing game.
They said (translated):
It all started in a Facebook group where participants were challenged to start communicating with an unknown number.
Several users said that if they sent a message to Momo on their cell phone, the response came with violent and aggressive images, and some say they had messages answered with threats.
They also explained the risks of the game, saying:
The risk of this challenge among young people and minors is that criminals can use it to steal personal information, incite suicide or violence, harass, extort and generate physical and psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Since the game began, various phone numbers have been linked to it and reported across the world, including in Mexico, Argentina, the US, France and Germany.
Linked to the disturbing game were images of a seriously creepy doll’s face which, again, looked like something straight out of a horror film.
However, the doll was created by a Japanese artist called Midori Hayashi, who is in no way associated to the ‘Momo’ game.
Hayashi is a doll maker, and though she is known for creating rather creepy-looking artworks, using life-like faces on mechanical or skeletal bodies, they have nothing to do with the disturbing social media game.
The face used for the game was apparently lifted from the internet without Hayashi’s knowledge, in order to portray ‘Momo’.
The princess of termites. This doll is a cover girl of my photo book. Atelier Third publishes my second photo book in the end of October. The title of my book is "Night Comers". They can send out my book to the foreign country. Please check my profile. ? 白蟻姫II。作品集の表紙の子です。作品集はアトリエサードから10月末に発売予定です。タイトルは「Night Comers〜夜の子供たち」です。 ? #art #dolls #artdoll #dollstagram #instadoll #dollartist #artistdoll #dollmaker #polymerclay #claydoll #cernit #skull #skullart #animalskull #bone #boneart #darkart #darkarts #fantasyart #surrealistart #surrealist #surrealism #surrealart #MidoriHayashi #termites
In an interview with Beautiful Bizarre, the artist said:
Many of my creations are inspired by Japanese urban legends and folk tales. So, perhaps, my overseas fans might not be familiar with the stories. (Human-faced dogs, human-faced fish, and human-face bird often appear in Japanese urban legends and folk tales).
Though undeniably creepy, it’s at least a little reassuring to know the image has nothing to do with awful game.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.