You can tell your mom to stop sharing stupid posts about the “Momo challenge” on Facebook because it’s not even real

Nor is some totally super basic sum “only 0.07% of people will get correct”, the IQ score from an online quiz at, or dire warnings that YOUR PRIVACY IS BEING DELETED UNLESS YOU COPY-PASTE THIS THING, but one at a time.

This week’s social media moral panic is the same sort of dreary hysteria prompted by the Blue Whale hoax in 2016, with claims that children’s videos on YouTube are being spliced with messages to commit suicide (or, gasp, get a haircut). There’s zero verified evidence of this, but that hasn’t stopped every Karen from sharing tabloid links about it on Facebook, anyway. Omg, Karen. Do you even Snopes.

“It doesn’t come on instantly so it’s almost as if it waits for you to leave the room then comes on in mid show.”

Yes, Amyre Karen. That’s how it works.

The Momo image is a sculpture by Japanese special effects artist Keisuke Aiso, and was first linked to a brainwashing conspiracy in mid-2018, when police investigating the suicide of 12-year old girl in Argentina cited a “WhatsApp-based terror game” as a potential cause. According to Wikipedia, this involved texts from an otherwise anonymous “Momo” WhatsApp sender, telling people to perform a series of tasks, ending in suicide. No connection between Momo and the case has since been established, but a number of subsequent teen suicides were also blamed on it because Karen.

Ironically, the social media moral panic is a much more serious risk than a thing some kid at school heard about from some other kid who heard about it from some other kid but none of them have actually seen it, because even if it isn’t real, everybody knows about it now and that’s almost worse.

“Even though it’s done with best intentions, publicising this issue has only piqued curiosity among young people,” Kat Tremlett at the UK Safer Internet Centre tells The Guardian. “It’s a myth that is perpetuated into being some kind of reality.”

For fuck’s sake, Karen, I’m changing the wifi password.

PSA: No, Nintendo isn’t swapping your old Switch for a new one