How social media fuelled the MOMO hoax - Punch Creative
March 5, 2019

How social media fuelled the MOMO hoax

You’ve probably heard about the recent social media frenzy to hit the internet, if not where have you been? Towards the end of February, news outlets, social media sites, radio stations and even people in the street were talking about MOMO: the bug-eyed, chicken-legged, and frankly terrifying character, reportedly getting children to partake in dangerous challenges online.

In this latest blog, our digital Leeds agency takes a look at the social media storm that recently took off surrounding MOMO. We explore what it is and whether or not you should believe everything you’re told.
With so much controversy around it, what really went on?

What is MOMO?

As mentioned above, the character is quite frankly the stuff of nightmares for children and adults! I know personally, that it took me a few days to get used to seeing the image without feeling creeped out!
In the last week of February, social media erupted over concerns that MOMO – a Whatsapp ‘Suicide Challenge’ was getting children to do different challenges with the end one resulting in the child having to commit suicide, or MOMO would get them. Incredibly harrowing for anyone involved.
There have also been reports that the character had been appearing in children’s videos on YouTube – such as Peppa Pig – where again, they try and get children to take part in various challenges.
It comes as no surprise that people up and down the country were shocked by the reports, with many parents actively campaigning for people to boycott YouTube until action was taken to filter these videos out.
The MOMO challenge has generated hundreds upon thousands of shares on social, as well as lots of press attention!

Fake News?

Now, we definitely don’t want to sound like Donald Trump here, but this social media storm has been reported as a hoax and fake news.
UK Safer Internet Centre has publicly said that there is nothing true in all of this, and nobody has been affected by it directly. The NSPCC has also backed up this claim, saying they have had ‘more phone calls about it from the media than concerned parents.’

How did social media help fuel the fire?

We all know that social media can be like a game of ‘Chinese whispers’ from time to time. What starts off as a comment from one person, can rapidly snowball into a mass media frenzy, and the MOMO challenge was no different.
Within hours of hearing about it, social timelines were filled with the dreaded image of MOMO, whilst angry parents were reaching out to Social Media platforms to ask why more couldn’t be done to stop these sorts of things. Boycotts were planned across YouTube and Facebook. You couldn’t even turn on a news channel without hearing about the challenge.
But why has it all gone quiet?
Well, it’s been reported that the MOMO challenge was just a social media hoax so never actually existed. The content generated across lots of social platforms has potentially shown us all that we need to do more to keep children safer online. With more and more children becoming socially savvy at a much younger age, is it time we got more clued up about internet safety?

By Becca Keenan, Marketing Executive