Is the Blue Whale Challenge a Hoax?
What is the Blue Whale Game?
The Blue Whale Game has made news headlines across Europe recently with many police forces warning of the dangers of the game and raising concern among parents. The Blue Whale Challenge is an online game in which participants are assigned an administrator and agree to complete 50 challenges. Challenges range from watching a horror movie, listening to a particular song and some form of self-harm. Apparently, at the end of the 50 days, participants are told to kill themselves.
This isn’t the first time an online game or challenge has caused concern among young people. Back in 2013, the Neknominate challenge (a dangerous online drinking game) was linked to a number of teen deaths in Ireland and the U.K. The Ice Bucket Challenge also offers a good example of how quickly challenges spread online.
Where did it come from?
News of The Blue Whale Game came to the forefront when it was linked to the deaths of 130 teens in Russia. At the time of writing this, there is no confirmed link between these deaths and the game. According to various media sources, the game originated in Russia and first came to attention in 2016.
A Russian news outlet, Novaya Gazeta, published a story with the first specific references to the game in which an anonymous moderator gives participants a series of challenges to complete over 50 days. The name is derived from a common belief that blue whales wash up on beaches to die.
Is Blue Whale a Hoax?
Following a recent meeting of the Insafe Helpline network, our colleagues in Europe acknowledged “that although Blue Whale may have initially been a hoax or fake news, it is now becoming problematic. There are concerns that some young people (as well as adults) are exploiting the fear around this to encourage others to self-harm and carry out various dares and post the results online stating that it was part of the Blue Whale challenge.“ Media interest and warnings from police about the game have sparked criticism, claiming these messages have helped promote a fake news story.
The Blue Whale Game raises some important questions in terms of media influence and the power of the internet. News of the Blue Whale challenges also comes in the same week where many questions are raised about a trending Netflix TV Show based around a teen suicide. The TV show aimed at teens sparked a huge online debate on whether the show glamorizes suicide. The topic also highlights the need for digital media literacy and the challenges fake news now pose for young people.
Whether the Blue Whale Challenge is real or just a hoax, it is now causing real concern. If you are concerned someone who know may be taking part in the challenge, contact Childline: childline.ie/ // TEL: 1800 66 66 66