A social media expert has described the hysteria around the viral “Momo challenge” as “a storm in a teacup”, adding a lot of the stories were based on “hearsay”.
Warnings around the supposed Momo challenge suggest that children are being encouraged to hurt themselves or commit violent acts after receiving messages on messaging service WhatsApp.
The messages come from users with a profile picture of an image of a woman with bulging eyes.
John Morter told talkRADIO’s Eamonn Holmes: “It is an alleged WhatsApp trick where you have to contact a phone number to access it.
“It does seem like a storm in a teacup from what I have gathered.”
There have also been claims that the Momo challenge material has appeared in a video featuring Peppa Pig among YouTube’s content aimed at children.
Mr Morter described the challenge as “sinister” but that there seemed to be very little evidence to back up the stories.
“One thing I would be interested to see is that I have heard a lot about them but I am yet to find one… It is a lot of hearsay,” he said.
“Yes there is some element of truth because it is very easy to make an additional video – slice a Peppa Pig video up and re-upload it.”
Charities including the Samaritans and NSPCC have also dismissed the claims that Momo challenge has initially caused any harm.
However they suggested that the ensuing media hysteria could now be putting vulnerable people at risk by encouraging them to think of self-harm.