A creepy WhatsApp meme based around a character called Momo is spreading panic on the internet.
The phenomenon, which originated in South America, involves teens being sent violent images, dares, and threats.
Some reports suggest that messages from Momo accounts have encouraged people to kill themselves.
Police in Argentina are investigating the link between the character and the death of a 12-year-old girl.
Officers in Mexico, Spain, and the US have warned people away from interacting with the meme.
A creepy WhatsApp meme based around a grotesque, bird-like horror character called Momo has been spreading panic online and has even been linked to a death.
Police forces have warned people away from interacting with accounts using the photo of Momo, especially in Spanish speaking countries and in South America, where the trend originated.
Momo has been compared to Slender Man, a horror-themed online character who became notorious when he was cited by teenage girls as a reason for repeatedly stabbing a classmate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2014.
As WhatsApp is private and encrypted, it is difficult to establish exactly what the broader Momo phenomenon entails.
Police in South America say people, mostly teens, have been adding Momo accounts as WhatsApp contacts, with at least some inspired to do so by messages on a Facebook group.
The accounts then start to message them with challenges, while threatening them with a curse. If the user does not complete the challenges, they are sent threats, according to a tweet from cybercrime officers in Mexico’s Tobasco state. The challenge can end in prompts for users to kill themselves.
Police in Argentina are investigating whether this kind of pattern was part of the death of a 12-year-old girl in Buenos Aires, according to city newspaper The Buenos Aires Times.
The girl had posted videos of herself doing a series of challenges before she killed herself, according to the report.
In response, Mexico’s cybercrime officers told children and young people to “avoid talking with strangers” and warned that those behind the challenge will “seek to obtain information that can be used against you.”
“It all began in a Facebook group where the members were challenged to establish communication with an unknown number, despite being accompanied by a warning,” the tweet states.
#UIDI #FGETabasco #Cibernetica #Tabasco #Villahermosa #PolicíaCibernéticaTabasco #SegurosAlNavegar #PrevencionDelitosCibernéticos #MOMO Advertencia por nuevo reto en niños y jóvenes, evita hablar con desconocidos, buscan obtener información que puede ser utilizada en tu contra. pic.twitter.com/FywFhZFyyH
— UIDI FGE Tabasco (@UIDIFGETabasco) 12 July 2018
It continues: “Several users said that if you sent a message to ‘Momo’ from your cell phone, it responded with violent and aggressive images, and there are even those who say they have answered the messages with threats and revealed personal information .”
Warnings have been issued in the US too. Kent Bragg, the police chief in Rochester, Illinois, said the phenomenon “isn’t innocent” and in an interview with local TV station WICS, and encouraged local parents to be aware.
Police in other countries have warned …read more
Source:: Business Insider