In the video, the author props up his phone to the camera and demo witness a creepy image of a half-woman, half-bird individual shown in the screen. The YouTuber declares he’s trying to contact “its been”. Several senses are transport. A phone call is started. Ten hours go by. Nothing happens. This video will continue to rack up over 5.5 million views, AL3XEITOR’s most popular since he firstly started uploading to YouTube four years earlier. Other YouTubers to their own about the beast.
The monster known as “Momo” was born. A brand new urban legend grows seemingly overnight thanks to the internet.
“The internet allows city fictions to spread instantaneously, ” said Trevor Blank, an assistant professor at SUNY Potsdam and generator of Slender Man Is Coming: Creepypasta and Contemporary Legends on the Internet , a work about another popular internet-made metropolitan myth. “In the past, it would make many years for the purposes of an city tale to reach levels of notoriety.”
The mythology encircling Momo is obligated for the digital age. Harmonizing to the myth, there are anonymous WhatsApp multitudes allegedly floating around Facebook. Those spreading the numbers dare anyone who comes across them to impel contact. If person decides to accept the “Momo Challenge, ” they’ll be greeted by a demon with projection hearts and a horrify emblazoned smile known as Momo. The human will proceed to send the individual threatening messages — often in the form of challenges — which eventually culminates in Momo daring that person to commit suicide.
However, anyone who watches a Momo Challenge video will find that there isn’t a single documented instance of someone messaging the being on WhatsApp and receiving a reply. Yet, still, the Momo Challenge spread around the world.
Reports of Momo-linked teenage suicides in countries like , , and grew in the months following AL3XEITOR’s video. Around , to watch out for the themes and to keep their children far away from the Momo Challenge.
At the same time, law enforcement officials there’s no between any confirmed suicides and these new challenges. Momo-inspired deaths simply did not exist, and were nothing more than an city legend for the internet age. Eventually, the anxiety smothering Momo died off.
“Urban lores apparently come from out of nowhere, ” says Blank. “They’re primarily believable fibs purported telling the truth, but there never seems to be anyone that has a first pas suffer of them, it’s ever a friend of a friend.”
Recent reports claim that inside harmless children’s pictures on YouTube, such as Peppa Pig. In response to the bulletin, YouTubers began uploading a slew of new Momo videos online. Authorities once again published a about the suicide challenge and parents all over.
We want to clear something up in respect of the Momo Challenge: We’ve pictured no recent evidence of videos strengthening the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos supporting harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.
— YouTube (@ YouTube) February 27, 2019
“Momo is just the logical evolution of earlier forms of folklore, ” justifies Blank. “There’s not been any documented an instance of anyone participating in the Momo Challenge and committing suicide and usually “when youre doing” hear that something like that has happened, it’s somewhere very far away and hard to verify — something that precisely fixes it seem like it happened but you can’t truly readily find out. That’s the various kinds of thing that happens with urban legends all the time.”
According to AL3XEITOR, his July 2018 video was the first Momo-related content uploaded to YouTube. The developer claims a viewer who said they experienced the WhatsApp lists on Facebook tipped him off about the Momo Challenge.
“The internet is an easier target for tales to circulate, both more anonymously and faster, ” clarified University of Georgia media studies professor Shira Chess, who wrote a completely separate journal on Slender Man. “The internet allows us to pool our beginnings creatively and establishes alliances where people can find one another, co-create, or pass along stories.”
“The causing influence behind city legends is beings. The only thing that maintains folklore in circulation is its relevance to us.” contributes Lynne McNeill, a folklorist at Utah State University, co-director of the Digital Folklore Project, and also co-author of Slender Man Is Coming . “Momo doesn’t “mustve been” real to become real.”
This is where the internet stairs in to blur the lines.
“One can detach things from their context extremely, very easily online, ” excuses McNeill.
In the case of Momo, the creature is presented in the photo that’s spreading with the WhatsApp number is nothing but a carve been developed by creator Keisuke Aisawa of the Japanese special effects corporation Link Factory. The slide was attracted from a Japanese Instagram user who in 2016.
“I can also falsify contexts that examine official online, ” continued McNeill. “If I wanted to I can photoshop a newspaper headline. I can photoshop a screen captivate. Those visual showing ingredients are so much richer than what we can accomplish time by speaking.”
In 2009, Eric Knudsen posted two black-and-white portraits as part of a Photoshop contest on the website Something Awful, outlining a group of children with a tall, lanky, suited being known as Slender Man.
“Creepypasta is the written explanation of found footage movies, ” says McNeill. “The best creepypasta had any plans to mimic mythologies and when it gets detached from its descents, when it begins this life of its own, it’s like a big game of telephone.”
And that’s where influential YouTube architects come in.
“Transmission of folklore relies on your faith , not in the content, but in the person or persons sharing it with you, ” says McNeill.
With traditional city fictions, beings would go out to where an phenomenon was said to take place in order to exam a tale out themselves, an ordinance known as “legend tripping.” This would significantly continue the spread of the illusion. Thanks to the internet, it has taken a brand-new form.
“People have created their own pseudo digital legend trip through YouTube by filming themselves toy a shocking activity or doing significant challenges of some kind that makes them out of their ease zone, ” asks Blank.
Blank emphasizes the fact that, in many ways, the Momo Challenge is reminiscent of a two-year-old online city mythology that likewise offered up an online roster of tasks that eventually led to daring its martyrs to commit suicide, the Blue Whale Challenge. Momo and the Blue Whale Challenge share a very common characteristic that are commonly acquires for a successful internet legend.
“Urban myths are projections of society’s feelings, hopes, dreads, and obsess, ” says Blank. “In today’s culture we have societal anxiety about what our kids are doing on the internet, the amount of control and information that’s available to kids nowadays, societal horrors about cyberbullying and how people are managing their mental health issues online, especially for kids.”
“The Momo story reflects that tension of what is it our kids are doing online, ” continued Blank.
“In words of digital mythology, one can certainly see this as a variant of Slender Man, YouTube challenges( Tide Pods, cinnamon, etc ), and classic myth with the siren-like bird-woman illustration of Momo who lures juveniles to their demises, ” summarizes Jeannie Thomas, department head of English at Utah State University and co-director of the Digital Folklore Project.
Momo is this comical combination of spooky anecdote and teenage internet challenge. Mix that with online media, which promotes its spread and that’s how a brand-new metropolitan legend — and the resulting panic that it causes — is born.