The following information was obtained from different cyber security sources for notification to all parties concerned pursuant to the mandate of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG).
The information provided was classified as “Restricted” pursuant to the PNP Regulation 200-012 on Document Security and Impact Rating as high based on PNP Information Communication Technology (ICT) Security Manual s.2010-01 p. 22 and p.129.
Described as an online “suicide challenge”, the “Momo challenge” purportedly features an avatar of a woman with dark hair, pale skin and oversized eyes who sends young people images and instructions on how to harm themselves and others.
The game which can be played on messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube said to be preying on young people. The anonymous person in the guise of “Momo” would use an unknown number to communicate and be able to instruct the victim to engage in odd activities like waking up during the weep hours at night or overcoming a fear. Children are then told to film themselves while doing these activities and send it to Momo. If the challenge is successful, Momo will encourage the victim to partake in even more dangerous activities that involve harming themselves and eventually leading to suicide.
Momo is said to send messages filled with violent or scary content and will even call participants and intimidate them. Refusing to do the challenge will make Momo threaten to visit and curse the victim.
It is very easy to see why children feel so pressured in this hideous challenge. One factor is the fact that children may have some difficulties in distinguishing reality from fantasy together with peer pressure.
The "Momo Challenge" is a hoax Internet challenge, which was spread by users on Facebook and media outlets. It was reported that children and adolescents were being enticed by a user named Momo to perform a series of dangerous tasks including violent attacks and suicide. Despite claims that the phenomenon had reached worldwide there are still victim/s who perform these acts that cause their lives.
Users who engage with Momo challenge receive disturbing graphics and photographs and in some cases are ‘doxed’ into self-harm and suicide. Doxing is when someone hacks your private information and then threatens to share it online or in a public forum to blackmail the victim.
Momo is also linked to theft of personal data, harassment, extortion, anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is also a form of “bait” used by cyber criminals to steal data and extort people on the internet. Momo is run by hackers who are looking for personal info.
Parents and guardians are urged to maintain an open communication with their children, educate them about responsible online behavior, monitor what they access online, and help them understand that their parents and guardians are the foremost people they can trust about matters that make them feel uncomfortable, coerced, or unsafe.
The public are advised to follow these tips in order to understand the risks and prevent being victimized by the viral Momo challenge game, to wit:
- Regularly check the privacy settings of the online accounts of your children;
- Monitor and supervise your child’s online activities;
- Advise your kids to be careful about over-sharing personal information such as their school, telephone number or anything that identifies where they live and consider not using their full name for their profile;
- Make sure your children know when and how to report and block any malicious or inappropriate messages or posts on the platforms they use; and
- Be a role model: limiting your access to smartphones, especially when your children are around.
For additional information, please refer to the following websites:
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