What have been the most terrifying viralities on social networks?


Since the massification of the Internet, viral content has been a constant that has marked the times. Videos like Baby Dancing have gone viral and right now social media has the power to go where the viral goes in seconds. However, it’s not just funny or informative videos that go viral on the internet. The viralities in the networks also had a face of terror that had been smoldering for a long time and started making the news about 5 years ago with the Blue Whale.

This is an interesting topic because not only is it multimedia material, but it has become interactive and participants may end up self-harming. The evolution of this network dynamic among young people is alarming and deserves to be taken into account.

Dangerous teen challenges are coming to the web

It’s no secret or news that adolescence is a complicated stage, marked above all by a strong factor of rebellion. When we go through adolescence, we abandon our childhood dynamics to enter the world of adults. But we are not adults either, so it is a process that we also face alone. That is, we generally don’t fit in with children or adults, so the search for identity and acceptance by contemporary groups begins.

However, this entry into the adult world to which we do not yet fully belong, we do so in a demanding way. It’s the rebellious factor that manifests itself in constantly challenging the limits of this adult world to which they are not yet accustomed. In this way, these challenges, challenges and “rituals” in general, aimed at obtaining this acceptance from their peers, begin to appear.

But none of this is new, high schools and places where teenagers travel in general are full of these activities. The real novelty is how the space occupied by Dangerous Teen Challenges has expanded to the web as well. This is what has given way to all sorts of horrific viralities in the networks that have hit the headlines in recent years.

The horrific viralities that shook the internet and social networks

Licking toilet seats

Toilet seat licking is one of those network viralities that can fall into many categories and terror suits it very well too. Social media can be a very strange place, and on TikTok, Ava Louise posted a video of herself licking an airplane toilet with the caption “Coronavirus Challenge.”

This challenge was later followed by California influencer Larz 21 who titled his video on Twitter with the tongue-in-cheek phrase “RT To spread awareness for the coronavirus”. A few days later, he posted a video from a hospital bed for contracting coronavirus.

The good news is that this type of material has led platforms to adjust their measures to prevent their publication and dissemination.

Blackout challenge and choking game

Choking-related “games” aren’t new either. Same, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention manages the figures of 82 deaths due to this activity between 1995 and 2007 in the United States. However, we know the power of social media outreach and how these challenges have migrated to their platforms.

The Blackout Challenge went viral on TikTok precisely this year and involves squeezing the neck with any object or hands, to block breathing. The result is that the lack of oxygen in the brain causes unconsciousness. The choking game or the asphyxiation game is similar and has become one of those horror virals in the networks via YouTube. The difference is that in this the pressure on the neck stops in the first moments of lack of oxygen, causing a pleasant feeling.

It should be noted that the Blackout Challange has claimed victims and in countries like Mexico there are reports of children between 9 and 11 years old who have lost their lives by suffocation.

Momo Challenge

One of the most well-known horror viralities on social media and the internet is the Momo Challenge. Its story begins with the fact that the image of Momo (as this figure was called) is a sculpture created by Japanese artist Keisuke Aiso. The work was made for a special effects company and was exhibited at the Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo. In August 2016, Momo’s first photos were posted on Instagram.

However, it wasn’t until July 2018 that it started going viral when it was uploaded to the Reddit /r/creepy thread, getting thousands of likes. During that same month, the so-called “creepypasta” or legend of terror spread over the Internet began. A few YouTubers made videos talking about WhatsApp numbers associated with Momo that sent up challenges and terrifying material.

One of the first investigations involving the Momo Challenge is the suicide of a 12-year-old girl in Buenos Aires. Police found conversations on WhatsApp that led them to assume the intention was to upload the video of the event to their social media, as part of the Momo Challenge.

Keisuke Aiso, creator of the sculpture.

Also, according to different stories about it, writing to Momo’s WhatsApp number may insult you or send scary material. However, he also drew attention to the fact that during the conversations, anyone on the other side sought information from those who wrote to him. This prompted Tabasco’s computer crimes unit in Mexico to investigate, saying the number in question was gathering information and inciting violence, extortion and harassment.

It’s also worth noting that Momo’s creator himself said he felt a bit guilty about the terrifying effect it had on the kids. Because of this, he revealed that the sculpture was thrown away, so the little ones can rest assured that Momo is truly dead.

The blue whale

After Momo, The Blue Whale has to be one of the most popular horror virals on the networks. Its origin is unclear, with a mixture of suicidal experiences among groups of Russian teenagers. What is a fact is that the challenge was to complete 50 tasks, 1 per day, of which the difficulty increased, the last was suicide.

Its puzzling origin begins with a Russian girl named Rina Palenkova, who posted a selfie with a scarf covering her mouth and nose and showing her middle finger. It should be noted that the finger showed traces of dried blood and that the title read “Goodbye”. The next day, Palenkova committed suicide, and on VKontakte, the most used social network in Russia, began to be greeted by many groups.

The subject becomes more horrifying when the same year are added the cases of Angelina Davydova and Diana Kuznetsova, both teenagers. The common point found in the surveys is that these two girls belonged to groups with similar themes. In them, apologies for suicide were made, images of Rina Palenkova and many other blue whales were shared.

The why of blue whales as a symbol is disputed. One version says it refers to the behavior of many of them washing up and dying on beaches, in an act similar to suicide. The point with these groups is that there was the figure of the “conservatives” who assigned the 50 tasks, the last being suicide. An investigation by Galina Mursalieva speaks of 130 suicides between November 2015 and April 2016.

But these cases have transcended Russia and have also reached the United States, India, Portugal, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Although in Russia a person claiming to be the creator of the game has been judged, in the rest of the countries it is more complicated since they are groups of young people reproducing the activity.

Viral terror in the networks right now

We saw 4 cases that we considered to be the most popular horror viralities in the networks, although they were not the only ones. However, an interesting change can be noted between what was presented between 2017 and 2018 and what we see now. That is to say, we’ve gone from the scary stories of Momo and The Blue Whale to people licking toilets. While it could be considered self-destructing content, this shift is due to platforms adjusting the content they tolerate.

In this way, groups apologizing for suicide on Facebook, users with similar behavior on Twitter, or videos of this type on TikTok, can be addressed automatically by its algorithm. The same has happened with material that informs or puts people at risk of contracting the coronavirus. The various social networks have been less and less tolerant of these cases.

In this sense, we could speak of remarkable progress in cleaning up social networks with content that invites violence and self-harm. Although we cannot claim victory as there are still many cases that we are unaware of in WhatsApp groups and other messaging platforms, these are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of authorities and the media.


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