Ben Radford

The Blue Whale Game: Moral Panic or Public Threat?

In 2016 scary warnings circulated on social media asking parents, teachers, and police to beware of a hidden threat to children: a sinister online “game” that can lead to death. Many panicky social media posts plead for parents to take action against the “Blue Whale” suicide game believed to be a hidden online social media group whose goal is encouraging children to kill themselves. One warning from the British government explained that “members have to do different tasks for 50 days. They include self-harming, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours, but these gradually get more extreme. But on the 50th day, the controlling manipulators behind the game reportedly instruct the youngsters to commit suicide.” The Blue Whale Game has many hallmarks of a classic moral panic, including “Stranger Danger” fears, concerns over new technology, and references to an evil conspiracy. While most of the reports of teen suicides were from Russia, Benjamin Radford investigated news reports of the first two alleged victims of the Blue Whale game in the United States: a fifteen-year-old boy in San Antonio, Texas and a sixteen-year-old girl in Atlanta, Georgia.