YouTube is being vigilant about the so-called Momo Challenge, forbidding it on the site and banning advertising on any videos that mention them, a spokesperson told INSIDER.
The supposed challenge encourages kids to participate in dangerous activities that would kill them. But even though many local police, local media reports, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian have warned parents about it, there's no evidence videos with the Momo Challenge actually exist. It appears to be a hoax.
The company told INSIDER that any videos posing that challenge would violate its guidelines, but that it hasn't seen any evidence that those videos exist in the first place.
"Contrary to press reports, we've not received any recent evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube," YouTube said in a statement. "Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately."
YouTube is prohibiting any content about the Momo Challenge that isn't news coverage or educational material, a spokesperson said.
But while news coverage videos about the Momo Challenge are allowed to exist on the site, advertising on those videos are removed.
The YouTube spokesperson said the company hasn't instituted any new policies to curb stories about the Momo Challenge in particular. News stories about the Tide Pod challenge, the spokesperson said, for example, were also demonetised because of the company's advertiser-friendly policies. YouTube pays special attention to any viral stories that may be harmful, but applies its policies equally, the spokesperson said.
The company has also banned videos that include Momo from YouTube Kids entirely. News stories are still permitted on the main YouTube site, but they're still subject to demonetisation.
"This image is not allowed on the YouTube Kids app and we're putting safeguards in place to exclude it from content on YouTube Kids," the company said in a forum post Thursday.
The supposed Momo Challenge first went viral last year when Argentinian police suspected a 12-year-old girl's suicide was related to it, but that link was never confirmed.
Momo's character is based on "Mother Bird," a statue designed by Link Factory, a Japanese special effects company.
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