First, I apologize if this is inappropriate. I wouldn't be surprised if some folks here saw my mention of the "Momo Challenge" and roll their eyes, but after my brother asked me about it, I looked...
First, I apologize if this is inappropriate.
I wouldn't be surprised if some folks here saw my mention of the "Momo Challenge" and roll their eyes, but after my brother asked me about it, I looked it up last night, and found some interesting stuff happening around it. I guess it's going through a second iteration right now, with supposed images of "Momo," a sculpture of a Japanese witch, and a voice saying to do really graphic stuff. The previous iteration was supposedly messaging a number via WhatsApp, and getting challenges, and threats that if you tell your parents (it's supposedly targeting kids), Momo will get you. The Guardian has a nice write up about the current issue with a picture, you have been warned if you scare easily. Now, she'll tell you to do stuff in a manipulated video. There's even themomochallenge.tk (also spooky if you're sensitive to uncanny sort of stuff like I am), which seems to exist as a way to fluff the story, and asks for what I assume is a requested cryptocurrency transaction (how a kid is going to get crypto to send, I don't know). I may seem like I'm writing something absurd, but this is not in ~creative on purpose, and I feel the propagation of this sort of thing speaks to several problems that may or may not be solvable.
My fascination is with the spread of the idea, and its possible effects. As somebody who occasionally reads the SCP Wiki (not to do with Secure Copy Protocol), I noticed something interesting in the rapid spread of this meme, and am sure sociologists would describe it differently. It behaves (insofar as a meme is an entity with a life or intelligence) in a way SCP would describe as "infohazardous" or "cognitohazardous." They don't mean the same thing: The information is a hazard (infohazard) because you know have this bomb sitting in your lap. You can warn people, but they may go out, see the supposed deaths, and believe it, or you can get a chain of people warning others. In either case, you pass the ball. The meme grows.
It is cognitohazardous for the reason that this hoax, by design, preys on fear. Just typing this, the face is burned into my vision (again, I'm sensitive), I'm home alone, and becoming rather shaky as I jump to look behind me at random noises. The chosen image of the sculpture was selected for this reason, it is deeply unsettling, shakes your rational mind, and you're potentially induced into believing it. I have, in a way, fallen victim to this.
The question comes, going back to my SCP reference: How can this be contained? I'm not looking to start a task force, or enlist people's help, but this is obviously not the first time this has happened with things from Satanic rituals and 2016(?)'s Blue Whale. My mom got swept up by the Satanic thing in the 90s, I watched a video about satanic sacrifices before Halloween 1997, I think, that she got from her church, so I have some experience from the other side. My primary concern is not that children are being compelled to kill themselves, but that the ensuing panic moral panic alone can cause psychological trauma and rampant misinformation. Is it possible to convince believers that something like this isn't real before copycat stuff comes out?