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Why the Momo Challenge panic will not disappear

On the night of July 11, 2018, YouTuber AL3XEITOR uploaded a subscription of nearly one million subscribers to its audience.

In the video, the creator holds his phone in front of the camera and shows the audience a frightening image of a semi-female, half-bird-shaped woman on the screen. The creator claims he tries to get in touch with this creature. Many messages are sent. A call will be made. Ten minutes pass. Nothing happens. This video has 5.5 million views. AL3XEITOR is the most popular video since it was first uploaded to YouTube four years ago. Other creators about the animal.

The monster known as "Momo" was born. A brand new urban legend is apparently growing overnight thanks to the internet.

"The Internet allows urban legends to spread instantly," said Trevor Blank, assistant professor at SUNY Potsdam and author of Slender Man Is Coming: Creepypasta and Contemporary Legends on the Internet a book on another popular internet legend urban legend. "In the past, it would take many years for a city legend to gain notoriety."

The mythology around Momo is created for the digital age. Legend has it that there are anonymous WhatsApp numbers supposedly hovering around Facebook. Those who spread the numbers dare anyone who meets them to make contact. When someone chooses the "Momo Challenge," he is greeted by a big-eyed monster with a terrible smile called Momo. The creature then sends out the individual threatening messages – often in the form of challenges – that ultimately lead to Momo daring to commit suicide.

However, anyone watching a Momo Challenge video will find that there is not one single documented instance of someone reporting the monster to WhatsApp and receiving an answer. Nevertheless, the Momo Challenge spread all over the world.

Reports of suicides by teenagers associated with Momo in countries like, and grew in the months after the video of AL3XEITOR. To watch the news and keep their children away from the Momo Challenge.

At the same time, law enforcement officials, there are no confirmed suicides and no challenge. Momo-inspired deaths simply did not exist and were nothing more than an urban legend for the Internet age. Finally the panic around Momo stopped.

"Urban legends seem to come out of nowhere," says Blank. "These are mostly credible stories that are supposed to be true, but there never seems to be anyone who has first-hand experience, it's always a friend of a friend."

Suddenly at the end of February 2019 in the midst of a series of children's participation in the platform, the Momo Challenge was rediscovered.

Recent reports claim that harmless children's shows like Peppa Pig are being shown on YouTube. In response to the news, YouTubers began uploading a series of new Momo videos online. The authorities again published a suicide challenge and the parents everywhere.

This time, YouTube even felt it necessary to try to expose the hysteria. However, like most popular legends in the city, Momo does not seem to disappear.

"Momo is just the logical evolution of earlier forms of folklore," explains Blank. "There were no documented cases in which someone took the Momo Challenge and committed suicide. When it's heard that this happened, it's a long way off and difficult to check – something that makes it seem like it happened, but you can not really figure it out. That's what happens to urban legends all the time.

According to AL3XEITOR, his July 2018 video was the first Momo-related material uploaded to YouTube. The creator claims that a viewer said the WhatsApp numbers on Facebook informed him about the Momo Challenge.

"The Internet is a simple place where stories can be spread both anonymously and more quickly," said University of Georgia media studies professor Shira Chess, who wrote a completely separate book on Slender Man. "The Internet allows us to creatively pool our resources and create connections where people can find, shape, or share stories."

"The motivating force behind urban legends are people. The only thing that keeps folklore in circulation is their relevance to us. Adds Lynne McNeill, folklorist at Utah State University, co-director of the Digital Folklore Project, and co-author of Slender Man is Coming . "Momo does not have to be real to become real."

This is where the internet comes in to blur the borders.

"It's very easy to get things out of context online," explains McNeill.

In the case of Momo, the creature depicted in the photograph, which spreads with the WhatsApp number, is nothing more than a sculpture created by the artist Keisuke Aisawa of the Japanese special effects company Link Factory. The picture is from a Japanese Instagram user who played a role in 2016.

"I can also distort contexts that appear online online," McNeill continued. "If I wanted, I can tag a newspaper header with Photoshop. I can take Photoshop a screenshot. These visual authentication factors are so much richer than we can achieve by speaking. "

In 2009, Eric Knudsen released two black-and-white images as part of a Photoshop contest on the Something Awful website, which depicts a group of kids with a tall, lanky, suitable creature known as Slender Man.

From these incredibly realistic images, the character of Slender Man took on a life of its own, producing a great deal of Creepypasta – frightening fictionalized short stories for the Internet.

"Creepypasta is the written version of found-footage films," says McNeill. "The best Creepypasta intends to replicate legends, and when it is detached from its origins and begins at the beginning of its own life, it's like a big phone game."

And this is where influential YouTube developers come into play.

"The transmission of folklore is based on your belief, not on the content, but on the person who shares it with you," says McNeill.

With traditional legends from the city, people would go where allegedly an event took place to test a legend itself, an act known as the "Legend Trip". This would perpetuate the spread of the myth. Thanks to the Internet, it has taken on a new form.

"People have created their own pseudo-digital Legend Trips through YouTube itself, filming themselves by filming a spooky game or challenging it to take them out of their comfort zone. "Explains Blank.

Blank points out that the Momo Challenge is in many ways reminiscent of a two-year-old urban online legend that also contained an online list of tasks that eventually led to the victims committing suicide, the Blue Whale Challenge. Momo and the Blue Whale Challenge have a very common trait that usually leads to a successful internet legend.

"Legends from the city are projections of the fears, hopes, fears and worries of society," says Blank. "In today's society, we have societal concerns about what our children do on the Internet, how much control and information is available to children today, societal fears of cyberbullying, and how people manage their mental health online, especially for children." [19659002] "The Momo story reflects that fear of what our kids do online," Blank continued.

"In terms of digital folklore, you can certainly see this as a variant of Slender Man – YouTube Challenges (Tide Pods) – cinnamon, etc.) and classic mythology with the siren-like bird figure of Momo, the children in the Tod lures, "summarizes Jeannie Thomas, Department Head for English at Utah State University and co-director of the Digital Folklore Project.

Momo is this bizarre combination of scary story and teenage internet challenge. Mix it with Online -Media, which facilitates its dissemination, and so creates a new urban legend – and the resulting panic that it causes.

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