Government wants Google, Facebook to remove all Blue Whale Challenge links to end suicide worries

BT Online        Last Updated: August 16, 2017  | 20:11 IST
Blue Whale Challenge has caused worry among parents
Blue Whale Challenge: Representative photo

The Blue Whale Challenge that has led to young teens committing suicide in many parts of the world, with some reports even coming from India, has forced the Indian government to take action. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) has instructed internet giants Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to remove all Blue Whale links to avoid any more cases triggered by the social media challenge. Reports of the Blue Whale Challenge had first emerged from Russia, but the bizarre phenomenon soon spread in other parts of the world. As the craze spread, Blue Whale Challenge caused worry in the West and caught the attention of the global media.

The tragedy struck home when a 14 year-old boy in Mumbai, who had been apparently playing this game, committed suicide. A similar incident followed in July in Kerala when another teenage killed himself. While there's no confirmation if these deaths are directly linked to the Blue Whale Challenge, the fear has grown among parents. And, the government has sprung into action and suggested the internet major Facebook and Google to take precautionary steps.

The ministry has written a letter to these internet platforms. "Instances of children committing suicide while playing Blue Whale Challenge have been reported in India...You are hereby requested to ensure that any such link of this deadly game in its own name or similar game is immediately removed from your platform," the Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) said in a letter. The PTI cited an official source who said that the letter was written on the instructions of IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Voicing concern, the letter added: "it is understood that an administrator of the game uses social media platform to invite /incite children to play this game, which may eventually lead them to take extreme steps for self inflicting injuries, including suicide". Also, the internet giants have been advised to report to law enforcement agencies if they find anybody promoting the Blue Whale Challenge.

Social media challenges often turn into a trend, such as the ice bucket challenge. But, the Blue Whale Challenge is peculiar and dangerous. In the Blue Whale Challenge, victims complete different tasks, most of which have to do with self-harm, during a 50-day period , and the final task is believed to be committing suicide.

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