Online game ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ banned following teen suicide
The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has banned an online game called “The Blue Whale Challenge” – this coming just days after the game was linked to the suicide of a 16-year-old body in Nairobi.
KFBC Boss Ezekiel Mutua said that the board had received complaints about the 50-day self-harm challenge game, prompting it to ask Internet service providers and tech giants Google and Facebook to block access to the app.
“Our attention has been drawn to a social media game that is being used to manipulate children to perform dangerous activities through a fifty-day series of traumatising tasks,” stated Mutua, adding: “It is disturbing that the main target of this game is children, who are vulnerable on account of their limited level of judgment and high susceptibility to peer pressure.”
He warned cyber cafes against letting children access the game, adding that any establishment that allows children to access The Blue Whale Challenge will be prosecuted in line with the Film and Stage Act Cap 222.
“Under this Act, it is illegal to expose children to any content that is suitable for adults only. In this regard, the Board is already working closely with the law enforcement agencies to ensure the game is not available in any public facility, including cyber cafes and gaming joints across the country,” the KFCB boss stated.
Mutua asked parents to keep a keen eye on the websites that their children access
A Killer Game
Research shows that this game – which challenges players to perform harmful acts over a 50-day period, culminating in suicide – was launched in Russia.
Teenagers tag each other on social media (Snapchat primarily) and challenge their peers to download the app and play.
The app then hacks into their personal information and threatens the teenagers with harm to their families or releasing of personal information if they fail to post photographic evidence of completion of day’s challenge.
Initially, tasks are as simple as watching a horror movie or waking up at odd times, but eventually they are told to inflict harm upon themselves.On the 50th and final day, they are forced to kill themselves.
Globally, over 100 teen suicides have been linked to the game.