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What is the Blue Whale Challenge?

Last week there was a flurry of activity and panic about a game called 'Blue Whale', which was allegedly doing the rounds in Europe and had purportedly caused the suicides or deaths of teenagers. Our social media law expert investigates.

The blue whale challenge

LISTEN: Social Media Law Expert, Verlie Oosthuizen shares her investigation on the new 'horror game'

The story went that a Russian game called Blue Whale, which encouraged players to do certain tasks - there are 50 daily tasks which eventually end in the ultimate one of committing suicide, had caused the death of hundreds of teenagers and was set to hit our shores. Some reports had the number of teen deaths at around 14 as a result of this game, whilst others were claiming that there had been hundreds.

Unfortunately, these types of situations are nothing new and social media is the perfect place to spread the panic.  Research into the Blue Whale claims show that this story initially surfaced last year on Russian websites, but were debunked. Then there was a single report surrounding the supposed creator of the "game" in November 2016, which was eventually picked up by the international tabloids in May this year. Therefore the “panic” is about something that may or may not have happened last year in Russia with no definitive proof either way.

Read: Jane: Parents need to be aware of this new online game

There are certainly many dangers on social media which can undoubtedly cause harm to young teens which deserve the focus and attention of the public, such as cyberbullying, sexting or other unlawful activity.  Before we waste energy and outrage on “threats” such as Blue Whale, we should do our research very carefully.

Verlie Oosthuizen

Shepstone & Wylie Social Media Law Department

Social media analyst and MD of Black Box Theory, Yavi Madurai, goes into depth about the game that's allegedly killing teens:

Video source: Youtube/Eyewitness News

Have you heard/come across this game yet? What are your thoughts on the game? Drop us an email to [email protected] or comment below.

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