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If you've not heard of the “Momo Challenge,” which authorities in several countries have issued warnings about, you may be familiar the terrifyingly jarring viral image its largely associated with.
The viral challenge itself and lore and memes surrounding it date back to 2018, and the image was said to have been spread on WhatsApp and YouTube (inserted into videos aimed at children) telling viewers to commit self-harm. However, investigative reports by Vox, Snopes, and The Atlantic have debunked the "Momo Challenge" as a viral hoax.
As the above Tweet and our previous introduction of the viral image explain, "Momo" is actually a sculpture made by Keisuke Aiso, a Japanese special effects artist for Link Factory, and was featured at an exhibit by Vanilla Gallery (who are known for fetish and underground artwork). The title of the piece is actually "Mother Bird" and shows an ubume, a type of yokai.
Aiso tells The Sun, however, that he feels a sense of responsibility for the panic and negativity use of his work has caused. The sculpture had rotted and withered away, so he threw it away last fall. The artist says the artwork was not built to last, and that he has mixed feelings about the exposure his artwork received and the way in which it was used.