Technology and online trends have given rise to life-threatening challenges such as Momo Challenge and Blue Whale Challenge. The need is to be precautious, an in time.
The Momo and Blue Whale Challenges recently spread enormous fear in the nation, and there is a need for a strong legal framework to regulate such trends which can be a threat to human lives. In today’s world, almost everyone is living two lives — a life of his own and a life in the virtual space. The hectic schedules of today’s complicated and stressful life have had such a massive impact on the lives of people that they have started living a dubious life. To add to this, there are lots of games which are making matters worse. Social media games these days are not just addictive, they also instigate suicidal tendencies.
The pattern of luring people or attracting them to such games or challenges starts with a request from an anonymous sender in the form of an invitation to complete simple tasks. This gradually leads up to dangerous ones. In some cases, it even drives individuals to commit suicide.
Recently, a Class X student in Ajmer, Rajasthan succumbed to the threats of Momo challenge and committed suicide by hanging herself at her residence. A deeper understanding of these fads can probably help one understand what can be done to avoid such an unfortunate end.
The latest addition to the list of dangerous — sometimes even fatal — online games is the ‘Momo Challenge’. According to recent media reports, Momo Challenge has a social media account called ‘Momo’ on various social media platforms. It deploys the picture of horror artwork known as ‘Mother Bird’. This image tends to draw curiosity among children and the youth. Once they get hooked, it drives them to perform several dangerous tasks.
The accounts associated with Momo Challenge are connected to three numbers from Mexico, Columbia, and Japan. If a person wants to quit the game midway and is reluctant to take part in the challenge, he is threatened with several creepy images that create a strong and terrifying effect. There are claims that these are malicious attempts at deriving information about the users based on their pattern of usage and their behaviour.
The Momo Challenge entails a horrifying image of a female whose eyes pop out of the sockets. This sender further sends instructions to the players and on not following these, they are sent more such scary videos and clips too.
Blue whale challenge
Before Momo Challenge, what dominated human minds in a similar manner was the Blue Whale game or ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ as it was popularly known. The game throws some challenges on a daily basis which the players are required to accomplish. The game starts with simple tasks like waking up in wee hours, listening to a particular type of music, watching horror movies etc. Gradually, the challenge leads to peeling out one’s own skin in particular shapes and sizes. It eventually leads to suicide.
What makes it tormenting in the very process is that the participant has to share photographs showcasing that the tasks are completed.
There is a lot of speculation on how these games are played. While some say that these are done by downloading these applications on your phones, some believe that these games are played via popular social media platforms.
While there are several instances where social media laws and cyber crime department of our country have taken an active part in annihilating the danger, there needs to be done a lot in terms of these games. While the matter of banning such nuisances even reached the top most court of the country, the agencies have not been able to block access to these addictive and dangerous challenges.
As a safety measure and in order to educate children to stay away from such dangerous challenges, several warnings have been issued by schools and other authorities in order to caution the parents or others to remain alert, vigilant and careful for their wards. While self-control is the primary and the most important guideline for any person in most of the cases, at times these games become difficult to ignore and avoid. In most of the cases, these games are tempting and apparently simple in outlook,. But once a person gets involved and goes further, they become deadly and tumultuous.
However, what is required at the moment is a strong regulatory framework that would set certain rules and regulations for these online games/challenges. In terms of online games, rules, regulations and limitations are still at the nascent stage. There seems to be no definite law pertaining to online gaming. As a result, the laws that are imposed by the central authorities in connection to different states and regions are blurred. There is no definite techno-legal framework that will set limitations for this online gaming. In fact, unfortunately, the central government has not been able to enforce cyber law diligence and internet intermediary liability law in India effectively. The need of the hour is to pass a law banning usage, sharing and accessibility of such games/challenges through social media or otherwise.
The impact of these games is gradually increasing. The death toll generating from the Momo Challenge is, in fact, capable of crossing that of the Blue Whale Challenge. Thus, there should be measures at both the legal and individual levels to regulate such challenges and ensure that lives of human beings are not at risk.
The writer is a practicing lawyer.
Writer: Sumit K Batra
Source: The Pioneer