Police warned parents in social media after a popular WhatsApp challenge revived, sometimes infiltrating children's YouTube videos. A Northern California mother says her daughter has become a victim– and created an almost catastrophic situation in their homes.
Children who participate in the challenge come into contact with a creepy stranger – "Momo" – who communicates primarily with the messaging application stored on Facebook on WhatsApp. Momo encourages the participant to do different tasks if he wants to avoid being "cursed". Some of the tasks include self-harm. Ultimately, the game ends with Momo, telling the participant to take his own life and record it on social media.
Pearl Woods told CBS Sacramento that his 12-year-old daughter, who had autism, had encouraged her to do things that were dangerous. "Only a minute later he could blow up my apartment, hurt himself, other people, too terribly," Woods said.
Woods, who lives in Folsom, takes care of what videos his daughter Zoey can watch and see more parental settings. "It is in the spectrum and there are many children who have a great impression," he said.
A few weeks ago, Zoey started showing some unusual behavior. – Where does suicide come from? Why would you ask me a knife in an outlet? Woods said.
Last week, Zoey turned on the kitchen gas cooker without allowing the light to create a potentially explosive situation.
"He always told me Momo, and I didn't understand, now I see," Woods said.
Alarm discovered short clips in Zoey's videos. "It stops the screen as I entered and I saw this creepy masked baby," Woods said.
Her daughter told her, "Momo made bad videos. That was bad."
"This is an explosive fire," Captain Chris Vestal said with Sac Metro Fire. "We really encourage parents to pay attention to what their children are doing on the Internet, ask them what they are doing."
Throughout the country, children report Momo videos with a strange cartoon-like character that tells children to do dangerous things.
CBS Los Angeles reports on a pediatrician and mother. The dr.
"We have no idea what is seeing this content for kids, their brains aren't fully developed, so they can't think of such complex situations as they see," Dr. Hess said.
The original image of "Momo" is actually a "Mom's Bird" statue by a Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa, featured in 2016 at the Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo. There is no evidence that Aisawa's Link Factory company has been involved in creating or implementing the Momo challenge. Link Factory did not respond immediately to CBS News request.
Like most memes, the Momo challenge seemed to disappear after the virus had left. But this week, parents in the United States find the game on WhatsApp, and are hidden among the animated videos for children in social media. "WhatsApp is deeply concerned about user security," said WhatsApp spokesman for CBS News on Tuesday. "You can easily block any phone number and encourage users to report us with problematic messages to act."
YouTube spokesman told CBS News on Tuesday: "Our Community Guidelines prohibit harmful and dangerous challenges, including the promotion of the Momo challenge, and this content will be quickly removed if we are flagged."