This app is ruining lives

At first glance, it seems harmless. Only three words long and not particularly threatening ones. Blue Whale Challenge. But perhaps the candid demeanor of this title is one of the many factors which have manipulated hundreds of young people into taking their own lives. The “game” gives its players one task to complete per day, with a total of fifty tasks. Each player is contacted by an anonymous curator who then assigns these daily challenges, from drawing a picture of a whale, waking up at four twenty in the morning to watch horror movies, and listening to psychedelic music. The first few tasks don’t seem particularly alarming. But eventually, they take a much darker turn, cutting symbolic characters into the skin, standing on the edge of a building for a significant period of time. After each challenge is completed, the curator requires you to send proof that you have completed the task. If disobeyed, threats are issued about harming the player’s loved ones.

The game was created in such a manner where once you enter, there is no seemingly possible way out. Installing the game could give the curator access to all the data on your device, therefore enabling them to gather more and more data, using it to blackmail and manipulate the player. Links to this game that have been floating around have been removed by large social media sites, such as Google and Facebook. Due to this, the game is now only available in very exclusive settings, such as closed chats. The victims are then selected by creating posts with certain Blue Whale hashtags. Curators then select their victims based on who they think will be the most vulnerable and easy to influence. Eventually, the curator assigns the players the date of their death, the fiftieth and final task they must complete: take their own lives.

As awareness of this sickening concept has increased, more and more access points to the game have been removed. But as one link is removed, others are being put up by hackers just as rapidly. Even with the creator, Philipp Budeikin, a psychology student, put behind bars, Blue Whale is still very much alive, and much like most of the content on the internet, it will never be completely dead.

But what if this didn’t matter? What if the number of Blue Whale links kept increasing, but nobody ever clicked on them? By eliminating website links and placing bans, the government has taken more than several precautions to shield the nation’s youth. But in reality, this is no contribution at all, but merely an avoidance of the main problem at hand. By trying to cover up such an intricate scheme, they are simply removing educative and informative resources, ones which can be used to educate — educate parents on how to protect their children, and educate teachers on how to find the telling signs of depression. Resources, that if properly used, can teach adolescents the power of technology, right at their fingertips. If one person could so easily manipulate an entire generation, imagine how the world could progress if today’s youth use our technological advancements in a proper manner.

On a happier note, a Pink Whale challenge has surfaced, creating a platform that “encourages positive and generous acts and attempts to bring happiness in the participants’ daily life.”

Esha Gavini, Grade 12