By RYAN GRILLE
By now, many have heard of the terrifying new phenomena on Internet. According to news media reports, the “Momo Challenge” involves several videos on YouTube encouraging children to harm each other and commit suicide. The videos are accompanied by a photograph of a terrifying creature that appears to be a woman with bird like features. As a result, parents across of the nation have been terrified for their child’s safety and have been calling for stronger regulation of Internet content.
There’s just one problem: the “Momo Challenge” is a hoax.
To begin with, if such a challenge were to exist, it wouldn’t last long anyway as YouTube is very strict with its policy involving content promoting violence. Also, the infamous image of Momo is actually a sculpture created by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa entitled “Mother Bird.” As a result of this panic, the Internet has responded with several memes involving the supposed challenge, mocking those who were gullible enough to believe it existed.
The fact that many parents were fooled into believing this challenge existed represents not only a failure on their part to do their own research, but also a failure on the part of mainstream news media. Several videos and articles related to challenge have only fed into the fears of parents. This kind of misinformation can potentially do even more harm than good. As I previously stated in my post about the vaccine crisis, it is the responsibility of journalism to spread the truth and set the record straight and this incident is an unfortunate example of journalists failing to meet that standard.