The creepy image that has taken over the internet as part of the Momo Challenge hoax is actually a sculpture that was put on display in Japan three years ago.
When cropped in, the image appears to be a woman's face, with unbrushed hair, bulging eyes, and a sinister smile.
Images of the whole sculpture, made by artist Keisuke Aisawa for the Japanese special-effects company Link Factory, reveal that the woman's body has been replaced with bird-like clawed legs.
"Mother Bird," as the sculpture is called, was previously displayed in Tokyo's Vanilla Gallery and was first pictured as early as 2016.
The sculpture appears to be Aisawa's interpretation of the Japanese folklore character, Ubume, the representation of the ghost of a woman who died during childbirth, which was once closely associated with birds.
Here are some other works of art created by Link Factory:
Soon after, though its genesis is unclear, the image got the name "Momo," and people across the world claimed the image was used in WhatsApp groups to convince children to commit suicide.
There have been no actual recorded instances of the character of Momo appearing on WhatsApp, and the theory was debunked.
The original sculpture's artist doesn't appear to have anything to do with the hoax that went viral.
The closest reference to the name "Momo" in Japanese folklore appears to be the story of "Momotaro," who was a boy found inside a peach and raised by an elderly couple.
In February, Momo returned to the internet, and parents started claiming the image was popping up in YouTube videos, instructing children to kill themselves and keep the clips secret from parents.
YouTube released a statement saying it doesn't have any evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on its platform.
"Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are clearly against our policies, the Momo challenge included," YouTube said in a statement. "Despite press reports of this challenge surfacing, we haven't had any recent links flagged or shared with us from YouTube that violate our Community Guidelines."
On Friday, YouTube announced it's demonetizing all videos about Momo, including news segments warning parents about the so-called viral challenge, despite it being a hoax.
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