Amid reports of the rise in suicides by children, the central government has directed several internet platforms to identify and remove with immediate effect the link of the deadly online game Blue Whale Challenge that has reportedly caused the death of several children in India and abroad.
The Blue Whale Challenge is a suicide game which assigns its players with certain tasks to be completed within a period of 50 days. The final task requires the players to commit suicide. They are also required to share photos after finishing each task.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued an order to internet platforms — Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo — to ban the dangerous online game which has claimed the lives of around 130 children across the globe.
"Instances of children committing suicide while 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," MeitY, led by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said in a letter to the internet platforms.
The letter added: "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."
The order dated August 11 further stated: "You are hereby required to ensure that any such link of this deadly game in its own name or any similar game is immediately removed from your platform."
Deaths linked to the Blue Whale Challenge have been reported from Mumbai and West Bengal while some reports suggest that a few teenagers were saved from committing suicide, the final task required to complete the fatal challenge.
The ministry has also said that any proponent or advocator of the online game should be reported to the police and other law enforcement agencies, the Press Trust of India reported. Copies of the order have also been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Under Indian IT ecosystem no initiative will be permitted that provokes young boys to commit suicide; this is plainly unacceptable:RS Prasad pic.twitter.com/r5Xlov4ae6
— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2017
Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had recently written to her counterpart in MeitY to order a ban on the Blue Whale Challenge, News18 reported. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take measures to stop the spread of the game.
Recently, a 14-year-old boy in Mumbai had killed himself by jumping off the terrace of the seven-storey building. Similar cases were also reported from West Bengal and Indore while several attempts of committing suicide were averted due to the timely intervention of the police and family members.
The game, which originated in Russia, was developed by 22-year-old Philipp Budeikin, who is currently in prison on a three-year sentence.