The government has directed top internet and social networking platforms to immediately remove the links to the Blue Whale Challenge game. The deadly online game has allegedly caused several children to commit suicide in the country.
The Electronics and IT ministry has asked the companies to make sure that any link leading to the Blue Whale game is immediately removed from their platform. The ministry issued a notice on August 11 to Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo India.
“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,” reads the notice.
What is Blue Whale Challenge?
The Blue Whale Game, also known as “Blue Whale Challenge”, is an Internet game. It is claimed to begin in Russia sometime in 2013 and now exists in many countries. The online game consists of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators during a 50-day period.
It is based on the relationship between the challengers (also called players) and the administrators who give the tasks that players must complete. Notably, the final task in the game is requiring the player to commit suicide. The player is also asked to share photos after finishing each challenge.
In India, several instances of children committing suicide after playing the online game have been reported till now. A 16-year-old boy in Kerala was reported to have committed suicide after allegedly completing the tasks of this deadly game. A 14-year-old boy from Mumbai and a tenth-grade student from Anandpur also reportedly found dead because of this game.
Expressing concern over its availability, the ministry further said,
“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”.
It is to be noted that it is not a mobile game and doesn’t have any website or app that can be removed. So, the ministry has asked the Internet giants to block the access to content related to the game.
“Posts with words or tags you're searching for often encourage behaviour that can cause harm and even lead to death. If you're going through something difficult, we'd like to help,” reads the page on Instagram after searching the related hashtag. It further gives a user three options – “Talk to a friend”, “Contact a helpline” and “Get tips and support”.
Similarly, Facebook shows the Facebook shortcuts stating, “If you or someone you know is going through a difficult time and you want support, we'd like to help.’’ The link then redirects users to same above-mentioned options.