Google has removed the ‘Momo Challenge’ videos on YouTube supposedly giving children harmful messages that Vietnam recently reported.
Le Quang Tu Do, deputy head of Vietnam’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, said the search giant – which owns YouTube – told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Friday morning it had excised the ‘Momo Challenge’ videos flagged by Vietnamese media from the video-sharing platform.
The department had also asked Google to improve its search filter feature and censorship to prevent videos potentially dangerous to children from reemerging on YouTube, Do said.
However, it was unclear whether Google abided by this second requirement.
Do said the agency’s move followed nationwide parental panic about harmful-content videos on YouTube related to the ‘Momo Challenge.’
He advised Internet users to report toxic videos to the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information via hotlines, social media apps and emails.
The ‘Momo Challenge’ was described by domestic media as a trend despite scant evidence but the so-called challenge could be a mere social media legend.
Starting in late August last year in Vietnam, it featured a creepy bird called Momo with eerie bulging eyes and a strange-proportions, long-hair head and it was accompanied by messages purportedly encouraging kids to attempt destructive stunts such as harming loved ones or even committing suicide.
Children refusing to do whatever was said there would be cursed by Momo, according to the Internet meme.
The disturbing Momo image reportedly cropped up in popular children's cartoons including Fortnight and Peppa Pig, and in clips on YouTube Kids – a children-orientated app with content selection and parental control.
It was believed to be just from a Japanese sculpture called ‘Mother Bird’ displayed at a Tokyo gallery.
As the grinning Momo creature going with suicide instructions was spliced into YouTube videos briefly, it was quite difficult for parents to know their presence and the only way to do this is watch the videos.