Gov’t IT experts urge parents to keep children safe from ‘Momo’

Marje Pelayo   •   February 28, 2019   •   10452

The disturbing viral Momo Challenge uses the sculpture of Keisuke Aisawa to be the face of its horrifying character named Momo. | Source: Instagram

MANILA, Philippines – Government IT experts issued an advisory against an online application hooking young Internet users to commit suicide.

In its statement, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) urges parents to monitor the online activities of their children amid the so called ‘online epidemic’ caused by an application of unknown origin that invites young users to do horrific tasks with suicide as the ultimate challenge.

The application called ‘Momo Challenge’ allegedly led an 11-year-old child to commit suicide.

The DICT cited a concerned citizen named Joy Alburo who noted on Facebook that the application may pop up in the middle of random videos on Youtube and attract users to engage.

The app also warns the young users to keep the activities to themselves or face certain consequences.

Government IT experts in the statement said that taking down the application “is not a guarantee of these materials disappearing from the web as new apps/videos surface regularly.”

The DICT said that though it can provide awareness programs against such dangerous online applications like the Digital Parenting Conferences they have been conducting since July 2017, “the power to monitor, educate and empower the youth lies in the hands of parents and the rest of the family.”

“The DICT will continue to enable parents in raising up digitally responsible citizens,” DICT Assistant Secretary Allan Cabanlong said in the statement.

“It is our fervent hope that parents play an active role in monitoring their kids online as the greatest influence to children is not the government nor the schools, it’s them- the parents. One simple tip everyone can apply now– no gadgets on the table. Use meal times to ask your kid ‘Kumusta? How’s school today?’. There’s no rocket science in digital parenting. It’s simply going back to the basics of parenting,” he said.

The DICT CyberSecurity Bureau assures the public that the agency is constantly monitoring the situation and “will continue to look into policy and technical remedies” on the matter.

Meanwhile, popular video sharing company YouTube tweeted its position regarding the viral mobile game.

“We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge. We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies,” the company said on Twitter.

The company also encourages netizens to notify them in any event that a harmful or dangerous challenge appear on their videos.

How ‘Momo Challenge’ works

A video produced and published in September 2018 by Mumbai-based entertainment content platform, Arré, shows how the ‘Momo Challenge’ works.

The video explains how the game keeps the young users hooked to the challenges despite the violence.

It says the first step is an invite from a half-bird-half-woman avatar with bulging eyes named Momo. Momo encourages the user to text a certain number on WhatsApp. Once the contact is established, Momo will respond with a string of personal details about the user, including his address, his parents’ names and in some occasion, Momo even describes what the user is wearing at the time.

Users then are asked to do a series of horrific tasks beginning with alienating friends and families, then inflicting self- harm. ‘Momo’ will ask the user for photographic proof that the task has been completed. Failure to accomplish the task will yield threats from ‘Momo’.

IT experts said that the app creators are installing spyware on the user’s gadget which gives them access to the user’s social media account, contacts and even the front camera of the gadget used.

Reports said that these photos of victims are being used by the app creator to convinced more teenagers to eventually commit suicide and upload proof on social media in tribute to Momo.

Authorities from around the world have intensified their respective cybersecurity measures against the dangers of the Momo Challenge and other dangerous game applications online.

To date, the culprits behind the dangerous mobile app remain unknown. — Marje Pelayo

Justice sought for Filipina who jumped off a building in Abu Dhabi

Marje Pelayo   •   October 17, 2019

Kin of Mary Jean Balag-ey-Alberto cry for justice after the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) fell to her death from the 13th floor of a building in Abu Dhabi where she had been working.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assured the grieving family of Filipina worker, Mary Jean Balag-ey Alberto, that the agency is closely monitoring the development of her case together with local authorities in the United Arab Emirates.

Alberto reportedly died on October 2 when she allegedly jumped off the 13th floor of a building in Abu Dhabi where she had been working.

“The Department shall respond appropriately once the results of the forensic investigation are released,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said.

In a statement, the DFA said the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) and the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi are in coordination with Alberto’s family.

Specifically, Embassy representatives assisted Alberto’s daughter in a case conference with the concerned UAE authorities and a lawyer was retained to personally pursue immediate legal steps to ensure that justice for the death of the Filipina worker would be served.

According to UAE authorities, Alberto committed suicide but her family is seeking the truth on a possible foul play regarding her death.

“The Department is extending all assistance necessary in the immediate resolution of the case, as well as in the repatriation of Ms. Alberto’s remains to the Philippines,” the DFA in the statement concluded.

Three migrants evacuated from rescue ship after suicide attempts

UNTV News   •   September 9, 2019

Three migrants were transferred on Monday (September 9) to Malta from the Alan Kurdi rescue ship after having attempted suicide.

A Maltese navy patrol boat picked up three minors from the rescue ship, operated by German NGO Sea-Eye, after they all displayed suicidal traits.

According to a Reuters journalist on board the rescue vessel, one of them made multiple attempts on Sunday before attacking another minor after his attempt failed.

The aggressor has no recollection of the incident and was shocked when he was told about it.

“We’ve just evacuated three of the minors that attempted suicide,” doctor on board the Alan Kurdi vessel, Daniela, said.

The three minors were part of a group of 13 who were rescued on August 31 from a small overloaded wooden craft in the Mediterranean.

The Alan Kurdi rescue vessel, named after a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean four years ago, remained outside Maltese territorial waters and is still waiting for instructions after Malta and Italy denied it permission to enter.

Viral Momo: PNP warns parents, guardians to monitor children’s activities online

Jeck Deocampo   •   February 28, 2019

The disturbing viral Momo Challenge uses the sculpture of Keisuke Aisawa to be the face of its horrifying character named Momo. | Source: Instagram

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) advise parents and guardians to strictly monitor children activities online amid the spread of an alleged suicide game called the “Momo Challenge” on social media.

The game features a scary-looking doll called Momo who allegedly encourages young users to add a contact on WhatsApp.

Once the invitation is complete, users are urged to do challenges that progress into more violent tasks such as self-harm and suicide.

The app is said to also appear on Facebook and Youtube.

“Sa ating mga magulang, kailangan po siguro nating bantayan ang ating mga anak. Kailangang magabayan ang ating mga anak lalo na kung sila ay nasa schools,” Albayalde said on Wednesday (February 27).

“Sa mga guro din, isa na rin ito na isama nila yung tamang pagtuturo para maiwasan itong mga suicidal thinking ng mga kabataan o ang mga challenges na ginagawa through the internet,” he added.

Albayalde added that those who encourage self-harm can also be held criminally liable.

“Remember this is a crime, lalong lalo na kung ang bata ang ini-enganyo na gumawa nito,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo


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