The Latest Internet Hoax: ‘Momo Challenge’


Now, a public carrier announcement. The Momo task appears to be just a hoax. Laura Hazard Owen is a reporter at Nieman Lab. She joins us now on the line. Thanks so much for being with us.

LAURA HAZARD OWEN: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: There’s been near – I assume I can reasonably use the word – panic over these YouTube motion pictures, where this annoying-searching man or woman, Momo, tells children to damage themselves. Is it not actual? OWEN: It isn’t always real. So, these films do not exist. The hoax is that it pops up inside the center of a YouTube video that your kids are watching and induces them to enroll in this task where they devote suicide, or as a minimum, like, it truly is one model of… SIMON: Yeah. OWEN: …The tale is going around. And YouTube says that it has no proof that those videos are current. We have no screenshots. We have no, you understand, like, videos. There’s no proof that that is a real issue. It’s no longer a real issue.

Momo ChallengeSIMON: So, is it a hoax or mass hysteria?

OWEN: I assume it’s a mass kind of parental panic. However, it’s being fueled by mainstream information businesses, which makes it a bit extraordinary. SIMON: Well, and it is only truthful to invite. So, you and I are interviewing to emphasize that this risk is not actual. Are we, at the same time, selling this hoax? OWEN: Possibly, with the aid of speaking me approximately it, maybe we are. But I suppose it needs to be said because most of the coverage I’m seeing is the type of each facet. Some say it’s a hoax. You recognize a few say it is a vital task. It is inducing youngsters to kill themselves. And it needs to be noted that this isn’t a real component. SIMON: Yeah. How does this compare to matters that have caught fire in recent months? I’m considering, you understand, the Tide Pods – something that turned into.

OWEN: I suppose this is extra plausible and tricky for several reasons. One is that the image itself – the Momo picture is memorable and horrifying to numerous people. I imply that this real image may be sticking in humans’ minds. The 2nd component is extraordinary. Is it genuine that bad actors use YouTube to prey on kids? And so, even supposing the Momo project is a hoax, it suits in with the belief that YouTube is a horrific location for humans to spend time. Subsequently, people experience direct responsibility for screen time for youngsters. And the pointers are always converting. There’s all this scary research obtainable. We do not know what it is doing to them. As Dad and Mom, we probably feel about how much time we spend on our telephones. And so that all plays into it. SIMON: Laura Hazard Owen is a reporter at Nieman Lab. Thanks so much for being with us.