Seeing the positive of viral hoax challenges/videos

Digital Security, Internet Scams, Internet Security / Saturday, March 9th, 2019

You may have heard a Momo challenge or Momo videos allegedly instructing children to self harm. I heard through a family member after receiving a text, as a concerned parent I immediate went into protect home base mode. I checked all of the YouTube history for all of my children’s accounts of this “Momo”, fueled by my wife’ anger at how can people do such a thing!!!!

A few days after receiving the text and the topic came up again. I had some time on my hands, so I proceeded to look further into it. After two minutes of Googling the topic most of the hits were claiming this was a Hoax that went viral in a major way.

As much as I hate to admit it, I jumped on the bandwagon. Yes me with 15 years in tech and my emotions and paternal instincts got the better of me.

YouTube have stated that “We’ve seen no recent evidence of the videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube”.

So what is a hoax anyway? A hoax is an act intended to deceive or trick. So I was tricked. In my defence there are a few reasons in my opinion why this particular hoax made we react the way I did.

  1. The believability (yes its a word) of the hoax
  2. The source of the message spread

The fact that my children do go channel surfing (locked down) and I could not review every little piece of material they watched meant I hit the panic button. In my own mind it was feasible that they could have come across this video. This combined with direct communication from family members and parents and even within some celebrities and schools is a powerful combination.

But we can’t help ourselves, we are only human. We have survived due to the fact that our ancestors were able to avoid a Lion in the jungle, and hoaxes are just one of modern societies “lions” that play on our reptilian brains.

So what possible positives comes from such a thing I hear you ask?

  • A reminder to pay more attention to what our children are doing on the internet and report inappropriate content via the app or the website
  • Education on what a hoax is and how not to fall for viral scares

One thing that we can definitely do regardless whether it is a hoax or otherwise is to report inappropriate content in any of the social media platforms your children might be using. In this case YouTube allows you the ability to flag inappropriate content.

Now regardless of whether this ever happened or not, do we really want to have this negative spread and instil fear in us and our children? Best thing to do in my opinion is to nip it in the bud by flagging it and moving on.

A well known YouTuber Philip DeFranco mentions in his post about the topic:

“…but the main point of the this story should be not matter what if you are a parent to a young child, you should be monitoring what they are consuming online.”

I’ll finish on three things also mentioned by Philip DeFranco:

  1. “Like often with viral situations like this , things like this start with a kernal of truth……Dive further fact check”
  2. “You should be monitoring the content that your child consumes whether…it’s not a replacement for a parent”
  3. “When you come across content like this, please please please report it!…”

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