Blue Whale challenge: what is it and what should you do?

After a resurgence of the Blue Whale challenge online – which has been found to be a hoax – the Belgian awareness centre, Child Focus, has issued some simple tips for children and young people (and parents) on how to handle it should concerns arise. 

2020-08-21 Belgian Safer Internet Centre awareness, helplines

What is the Blue Whale challenge?

The Blue Whale challenge originates from an online scare about supposedly deadly challenges circulating on the internet and targeting young people. Accordingly, the first challenges are innocent, but they become more and more dangerous and even life-threatening. For example, a fake account will ask you to hurt yourself, or threaten to put your personal data online if you don't do all the assignments. But that person is lying and has no personal information at all. As long as you don't go along with it, nothing can happen.

How do I recognise this dangerous challenge?

  • The message comes from a profile you don't know.
  • That fake account asks if you want to participate in a game or challenge.
  • Often, it's called the Blue Whale challenge, but it can also be another name.

What if I get such a message?

  1. Ignore the message. Don't share information with that person.
  2. Take a screenshot, in case you want to show this to an adult later.
  3. Report the account to the social media channel, such as TikTok or Instagram.
  4. Block the account.
  5. Tip: put your own profile on private; that way, no one can send you a message just like that.

Is it safe to block that account?

Yes, it is completely safe to block an account. And that's the best you can do. That fake profile doesn't have any information from you if you haven't shared any information, so it's not true that it has your IP address or other information from you if you block it. That person won't even be able to send you any more messages.

Should I be afraid of the Blue Whale challenge?

No, you don't have to worry. As long as you don't do it, nothing can happen.

What if I answered, clicked on a link or already did an assignment?

You can always stop, even if you've already answered or participated. Block the account. Did you click on a suspicious link? Even then, that account has no data from you. Just to be sure, change the password of your account, and all other accounts for which you use that same password.

Who is behind these online challenges?

Teenagers who get bored and try to bully other young people online. They're not real hackers, they just pretend to be to scare you.

Do I have to go to the police if I get such a message?

No, you shouldn't, because you're not at any risk. Would you like to talk to someone about it? Then do it with an adult who you can trust, like your parents.

Find out more information about the work of the Belgian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

This article was initially written by Child Focus in Dutch for WAT WAT and is reposted in English on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal with permission from the authors.

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