Indian govt to crack down on social media over Blue Whale game suicides | The Daily Star
11:20 AM, August 17, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:42 AM, August 17, 2017

Indian govt to crack down on social media over Blue Whale game suicides

The killer online ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ game has led to suicides around India. The government of the country claimed it has set in motion strict measures to leash Blue Whale gamers. 

Amid reports about the controversial online game Blue Whale Challenge allegedly leading to a number of teenagers’ suicides in different parts of the country and overseas, the Centre has now swung into action to curb this “deadly internet game”, which reportedly involves a series of mainly “brutal” tasks assigned to a player by administrators during a 50-day period with the final challenge requiring him to commit suicide.

The family of a 22-year-old man, who had committed suicide by hanging himself inside his home in Kerala last month, on Wednesday said they suspected that suicide was spurred by 'Blue Whale Challenge' addiction.

Asserting that the Centre has taken “tough measures” in this regard, Union Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made this clear on Wednesday that the government will crack down on social media platforms if they fail to remove links to the Blue Whale game. “People are committing suicide due to Blue Whale game. We received many complaints including from the departments concerned,” Prasad told reporters.

“Clear instructions have been issued to all the technology platforms that they must delink this game immediately. Under the Indian IT ecosystem, no initiative shall be permitted which provokes young boys to commit suicide. This is plainly unacceptable,” Prasad said. He added, “I appeal all the platforms to abide by the direction which the IT ministry has given. It is important and any violation will be viewed very seriously.”

The Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity), in a letter dated 11 August, reportedly asked Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to immediately remove links to the Blue Whale game.

“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,” the Ministry's letter asked the internet majors.

Expressing serious concerns over availability of such a game on the internet, the Ministry also 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.” The Ministry said the proponent of Blue Whale Challenge should be reported to law enforcement authorities.

In this deadly game, a player is also asked to share photos after finishing different tasks. The game is spread via links on social media platforms. Mumbai, West Midnapore in West Bengal, and some parts of Kerala have reported some cases of youngsters’ suicides allegedly linked to this game in recent weeks. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday reportedly hailed the Centre's decision to regulate the Blue Whale game.

He urged the people to alert authorities about the existence of related links and hashtags in cyber space. He expressed happiness that the Centre responded positively to his recent letter calling for banning this game in the country to “save precious lives”.

Copyright: The Statesman/ Asia News Network

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