Is the 'Momo Challenge' Real? Experts Say Phenomenon Likely a 'Hoax,' Urge Parents' Vigilance

Updated on April 16, 2019
Stephen Sinclair profile image

Stephen Sinclair is a Canadian freelance writer who has been publishing professionally for several years.

Is Momo Real News?

A 'perfect storm' has caused Google searches like "What is Momo?" and "Where does Momo live?" to spike.
A 'perfect storm' has caused Google searches like "What is Momo?" and "Where does Momo live?" to spike. | Source

What You Need To Know About The 'Momo Challenge'

"Momo" is a "innocuous sculpture" designed by Japanese special-effects artist Keisuke Aisawa that first appeared in Instagram photos in 2016. The Atlantic reports that the sculpture's actual title is Mother Bird. The Link Factory artist's work was displayed at a "horror-art" gallery in Tokyo where it was photographed.

Before reaching the United States in 2018, as reported by the BBC, the "Momo challenge" first appeared in Europe and then Argentina, where it has been connected to a child's death. Police are said to be "skeptical" about Momo's association with the case. Other reports of children acting out in reaction to Momo have been reported in California and the United Kingdom, as featured with CNN.

"In its purest form," Guardian Media Editor Jim Waterson told the BBC, "it's a warning that's circulating, mainly among adults, that children, when they see an image on WhatsApp, are going to be encouraged to do violent acts, perhaps even suicide, by this character represented by a bizarre image of a Japanese puppet."

Despite the smattering of reports of harm to children, David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, says that data to support "a prevalent, global phenomenon of Momo popping up in kids' WhatsApp accounts and YouTube videos and urging them to harm themselves" does not exist and that the "claim appears to be fear-driven exaggeration lacking in supportive evidence."

The Momo challenge has been compared to previous viral challenges, such as the "blue whale challenge" and the "Tide Pod challenge," which has been called "lighthearted." Instructions given by another internet phenomenon, Slenderman, was the reason provided by two Wisconsin teens for their 2014 stabbing of a friend. The teens now face 25- and 40-year stays in mental health facilities.

What Is The Momo Challenge?

'Know What Your Kids Are Watching'

Given this information, Common Sense Media's Jill Murray says that the fears of parents with regard to viral internet sensations are "often justified," even though, in the case of Momo, there probably isn't much to worry about.

"Know what your kids are watching, and how they're watching it," both Murray and Mikkelson underlined to CNN.

A small number of trolls and others with bad intentions have "possibly" inserted the haunting image of Momo in children's videos and harassed children on messaging apps. "Anyone can post pretty much anything to YouTube at any time."

Though schools, law enforcement agencies, and media outlets have jumped on what is said to be information gleaned from just one original post to a small Facebook group, the sensation has ballooned into an international phenomenon.

Jim Waterson described the attention directed at the images of the sculpture as a "perfect storm" driven by click-hungry media and the "legitimate concerns" of parents. He observed that teenagers are often better at sorting real news from fake than their parents, many of whom also have younger children to consider.

While it is natural for police, schools, and parents to be concerned about such stories, journalist Amelia Tait told the BBC that the disproportionate amount of attention Momo has received is the fault of the media.

"It starts ... in one Facebook group and tabloids decided to report that as fact," Tait described. "That lends legitimacy to that one comment and causes more comments."

Little Evidence That 'Momo Challenge' Presents Actual Danger

Parents are encouraged to be aware of their children's online activities.
Parents are encouraged to be aware of their children's online activities. | Source

© 2019 Stephen Sinclair


Submit a Comment
  • Stephen Sinclair profile imageAUTHOR

    Stephen Sinclair 

    14 months ago from Canada

    Thank you, Tim!

  • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

    Tim Truzy 

    14 months ago from U.S.A.

    Interesting. I've never heard of this until today. Thanks, Stephen. The best advice is to know what your kids are doing on the internet like you said in your article.


    Respect and admiration,



This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)