Mr Idris at Press conference on Blue Whale.
The Blue Whale sounds like an ecological project but on the contrary is a deadly game that we have to vigilant of. The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is concerned about the measures that the government has taken to keep the Blue Whale from Malaysia. What is the game about and how are we to keep our children safe?
VeronikaVolkova, 16, and YuliaKonstantinova, 15, from Russia jumped off the roof of an apartment together in February 2017. J. Vignesh, 19, from India hanged himself in September 2017. Earlier, a 14-year old boy from Mumbai jumped off the fifth floor, and Manoj C Manu 16 from Kerala, hanged himself in July the same year. These victims and 150 other suicides across Russia, the US, the UK, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal and India is said to have connection with an online challenge called Blue Whale.
The Blue Whale is neither a game in the traditional sense nor a software application. It is a challenge that can be extended to a person via any communication means and those who accept the challenge have to play out the instructions in real life and report back to the challenger. This challenge starts with a ‘curator’ who private messages a player on a social media inviting him or her to play the game on one condition – they cannot quit once they agree to start playing. The curator then gives the teenager a series of dangerous tasks over fifty days.
These may include cutting oneself, waking up at 4:20 a.m. every day, watching gory videos sent by the curator, listening to a particular depressing song, visiting cemeteries alone, or standing on the ledge of a high building. The last and final task instructs the teenager to take his or her own life. Each task also needs to be photographed or videotaped, so the administrators have proof of completion and authenticity, including the final suicide.
The game got its name either from the idea that whales beach themselves to end their lives.
This killer gameis said to have been created by a 21-year-old Russian national Philipp Budeikin with BudeikinBudeikinin 2013, making online contact with people –usually impressionable teenagers –so he could decide who would play the game successfully.
In May 2016, he discovered this phenomenon and a newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that members of“death groups”pressure a 12-year-old girl to committed suicide. Soon, it gained traction among Brazilian teenagers who called this online death trap Baleia Azul which means Blue Whale in English.
Budeikinwas arrested in May 2017 and he claimed that the psychological manipulation he was administrating was intended to make the victims happy. He claimed that he was giving them the warmth and understanding that they didn’t get in their lives. He admitted to inciting 16 school girls to take their own lives.
Although the Communications and Multimedia Ministry had announced that the Blue Whale had not ‘beached’ in Malaysia, CAP urges both the authorities as well as the consumers to be wary of what lurks on the ‘dark side’ of the internet:
· Young peopleneed to understand that internet addiction is just as bad as alcohol addiction; and that 90% of the internet is ‘hidden’ – not indexed by search engines like Google, known as the dark web, is occupied by drug peddlers, fraudsters, black marketers, hackers, terrorists, hit men and illegal pornography.
· Parents and Teachers to make ‘gadget hygiene’ as an essential part of parenting and teaching; discuss about cyber security; keep an eye open for indications of self-harm; and look out for any out-of-normal behavior of the children such as suddenly become loners, or with impulsive behavior, or with disturbed eating and sleeping habits.
· Media and NGOs to create awareness among the public.
· Policy makers/ Ministry of Communications and Multimedia to take necessary steps to immediately ban the game and make ‘cyber security’ to be included in the school curriculum.
Press Statement, 7 September 2017