Northern Ireland news

Charities claim 'Momo challenge' is a malicious hoax

Charities have said the momo challenge is a malicious hoax

TWO leading charities have claimed that the 'Momo challenge', which has sparked fears children are being targeted online, is a malicious hoax.

The challenge, which is played over WhatsApp, allegedly sees the Momo character asking would-be participants to contact "her" and carry out a series of challenges - the final one being taking their own life.

The Momo character features a disfigured face with stretched features attached to a bird's body.

Earlier this week, the PSNI said the "extremely disturbing" challenge is hidden within "harmless looking games or videos played by children and when downloaded, it asks the user to communicate with 'Momo' via popular messaging applications such as WhatsApp".

Schools across Northern Ireland also issued warnings to terrified parents amid fears children were being targeted on the video sharing website.

But the NSPCC said there was no verified evidence of anybody receiving messages or harming themselves as a result.

The Samaritans also said it was "not aware of any verified evidence in this country or beyond" linking the momo meme to self-harm.

A spokesperson said: "These stories being highly publicised and starting a panic means vulnerable people get to know about it and that creates a risk.

"Currently we're not aware of any verified evidence in this country or beyond linking Momo to suicide.

"What’s more important is parents and people who work with children concentrate on broad online safety guidelines."

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