Blue Whale Game Growing In Popularity Across Europe

April 26, 2017 8:31 AM

Early in 2017 reports of a twisted "game" that preys on vulnerable teenagers started to appear in world news, it was claimed that up to 130 Russian teens committed suicide after playing the series of warped challenges. Now it seems word of the Blue Whale has been spreading across Europe and one headteacher in the UK has even claims to have discovered the game in his school.

Blue Whale Game

Schools And Police Across Europe Warn Parents About A Dangerous Online Game

Until now all the reports about this dangerous game, which encourages teens to take their own lives, have come from Russia, Central Asian countries and Eastern Europe but now news rooms across Europe and the United Kingdom are buzzing with talk of the Blue Whale Challenge.

There's claims that the game has been played by three teens in Belgium in just one week and as a result police in Belgian and French issued a warning to parents about the existence of the evil game.

Only yesterday the British newspaper, Metro, led their article on the game with the claim "Blue Whale suicide game makes its way to UK," implying that those behind the game have turned on a new British web server to power the game in the UK, or that they have started marketing the game at British teens.

One paper claimed that a school in Essex had "discovered a game called the Blue Whale Challenge" and police forces all across the UK have been warning parents about the dangers of this game. Devon and Cornwall police tweeted "who ever created this horrible game is sick! Parents: Please be aware of this 'game' talk to your children about it if concerned."

Police in Essex, Hertfordshire and dozens of other counties have been sharing the news and warning parents of the dangers of this so called "game" which encourages teenagers to complete a series of dangerous challenges over a 50 day period.

Why Is The Blue Whale Game So Dangerous?

Teen Playing Blue Whale Game On Phone

Russian reports claim that teens as young as 12-years-old have been tricked into taking part in the sinister game on social media websites, primarily the popular social network in Russia VKontakte, and in private chat apps. The player is assigned a master, sometimes also known as an administrator or curator who dish out disturbing daily challenges over the 50 days.

These tasks can include being made to waking up at odd times of day, watch horror movies all day, watch disturbing or psychedelic videos online, listen to depressing music, go whole days without speaking to anyone and worryingly can also include self harm in the form of cutting whale symbols and words into the skin. The player is encouraged to provide photographic or video proof of completion of each task.

However, all of these challenges are nothing compared to what is asked of teenaged players on the final day of the game. On day 50 in order to "win" the game they are persuaded to take their own lives. The players are told that once they start playing there is "no way back" and that if they try to back out of the game they will be tracked down.

Russian news outlet claim that the game is responsible for the deaths of between 80 and 130 children who committed suicide between November 2015 and April 2016.

Advertisement ‐ Content Continues Below.

How Accurate Are Reports About The Blue Whale Challenge In The Media?

When it comes to the Blue Whale Game the media are incredibly ill-informed and sensationalist, almost all the claims the press have made about how widespread the game has become are fabricated or exaggerated beyond belief.

One British paper said this week, "the Blue Whale Challenge is meant to have originated in Russia and is thought to be spreading through Europe via social media." The only part of this claim which is true is that the challenge originated in Russia.

The games's origins are on VK.com (VKontakte), a social media website which is poplar in Russia, a site which isn't used extensively in Europe or other parts of the world, so we know Blue Whale isn't spreading through Europe via VK. There are absolutely no reports at all that the game has ever been played on any social networks other than VK, so that rules out the possibility of the threat coming from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram.

The only thing which is spreading across Europe is awareness of the game and increasing column inches in the press. In the past few weeks it's been covered in local press all across the UK as well as the national news outlets The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Mirror, Metro and even the BBC.

While the game itself might not be spreading across Europe, interest in the game is clearly growing there. The graph below shows how many people in the United Kingdom have searched for the term "blue whale" on Google in the last 12 months. You can see how much interest in this topic has grown in recent weeks.
Blue Whale In The UK

As I previously mentioned, a school in Essex claims they "discovered" the game, as a reader you would naturally think this means that the school caught a pupil playing the game or talking about the challenges with their classmates. No, what the paper actually meant when they used this alarmist terminology is that the school heard about it from the local police on Twitter.

The school didn't discover the game, they just took the online claims about this game as true and without doing any fact checking they then shared this claims with parents thus perpetuating the myth and legend of this game.

When local police forces in the UK started sharing news of the game, every tweet can be traced back to just one, posted by PCSO Will Heather.
"PLEASE RT & SHARE: 'Blue Whale' Suicide Game??? Teens complete self-harm tasks & 'win' by committing suicide."
PCSO Will Heather (@PCSOWillHeather)
This tweet has now been deleted from Twitter throwing into doubt the validity of the claim and the officer's sources but it was too late, this single post started an ill-informed trend of police forces retweeting and sharing the claim.

In a video produce by one British police force, an online safety expert Sergeant Steve Shepherd talks about the dangers of the game, he's first asked what the Blue Whale Challenge is and he states that "it's a story that's emerged from Russia." That is exactly what this is, a story. There is no evidence that this game exists in Russia, let alone in the UK or Europe.

Sergeant Shepherd goes on to say that Blue Whale is "a social media site that encourages children to do 50 different acts every day that get more and more sinister as they go along." That's not even the story from Russia, it's never been claimed that Blue Whale is "a social media site" in its own right. The Russian claims are that the game started on an established social media site. This just goes to prove that while the video acknowledges that the game is "possibly a bit of a hoax, maybe a bit of fake news," the claims stated by alarmist videos like this shouldn't be taken as fact.

In fairness to the sergeant, he does say that the existence of the game is only a rumour and likely to be an urban legend and adds that "because everybody is talking about it on social media, we need to be talking about it, especially to parents."

Sergeant Shepherd confirms that there has been no cases of this game be played by teens in the UK, quashing claims that the game is spreading across Europe and into Britain. He even states that they contacted police forces across Europe who also report that there has been no evidence of the game's existence.

The Devon-based sergeant ends the video by saying, "don't panic, we haven't heard of anything in the UK or Europe at the moment about this, but because your children are talking about it, you need to be talking to them about it as well."

The Daily Mail have described the Blue Whale as "a Facebook game linked to 130 teen deaths," there are no reports or claims that the game has ever existed on Facebook, this is pure fabrication and nothing more than fake news.

The Hertfordshire Mercury call the game a "viral challenge which encourages vulnerable people to commit suicide," a game which is only rumoured to exist and is so illusive that the teen deaths in Russia aren't even definitively linked to it can't have possibly gone "viral."

However, the BBC were a little more responsible in their reports, they also weren't as quick to jump on the story, clearly waiting until more was known. The Beeb's report says "there's no evidence the game has reached the UK, or whether it's real," they gone on to say that "Bulgaria's Centre for Safe Internet has told the Balkan Insight that the game is most likely a rumour which has been spread online."

Does The Blue Whale Game Really Exist?

Blue Whale Game On Mobile

So, that leads us to question whether the Blue Whale Game actually exists at all, given that there is no concrete evidence at all for its existence, there are no reported cases of teens playing the game across all of Europe and no proof that any teens suicides in Russia occurred as a direct result of the game.

No transcripts of conversations between game admins and victims of suicides have ever been published and when a journalist tried to play the game, he was unable to successfully make it past the first challenge.

As you've probably worked out, the game almost certainly doesn't exist, it's at best "unconfirmed" but most likely nothing more than an internet myth, an urban legend that has been perpetuated by sensationalist journalism and well-intended but baseless statements from school. 

As well as the media, there are much more sinister groups who are actively helping to promote the Blue Whale myth and it is on these dark pages that the rumour of the game originated. They're known as "death groups" or "suicide groups" and they publish suicide-themed content to their teenaged followers on VK.com.

One such group, "Sea Of Whales" is known for publishing photos of the Russian teen suicide victims and uses this type of content to glamourise and promote suicide to push its twisted agenda. Police in Russia have shut down several of these groups in recent years but say that as soon as one is shut down, another starts up and this has driven them underground.

More Kitov, the creator of the group "Sea Of Whales" told the news website Lenta that he and administrators of other similar death groups have no interest in encouraging minors to take their own lives and that for him this was about nothing more than increasing the number of subscribers to his group and attracting advertisers to the page.

Kitov also spoke about Filip Lis, the creator of another group known simply as "F57". The group has now been deleted from VKontakte but the name F57 has become a hashtag psynonemous with the Blue Whale Game. Lis also created the myth of a mysterious sect and used photos of Rina Palenkova, a Russian teen who committed suicide, to promote the lie.

Between these two groups we can see the origins of Blue Whale, the hashtag and stories of a mysterious game come from the group F57, while its name comes from the Sea Of Whales group, which in turns gets its name from the belief that whales will voluntarily beach themselves in order to end their lives.

While these two groups say they have no interest in encouraging young people to take their own lives, their founders have created, perpetuated and promoted the myth of a deadly game in order to grow their pages on VK.com, a site where popular communities can reportedly earn a lot of money through advertising.

Advertisement ‐ Content Continues Below.

How To Join The Blue Whale Game

Blue Whale Challenge

Many people have tried to find the Blue Whale Challenge and play the game, including a journalist working at Radio Free Europe who created an account on VK, posing as a 15-year-girl. The journo managed to make contact with someone claiming to be a "curator" and were given their first task, which involved deliberate self-harm.

The curator told the journalist that they were to "carry out each task diligently and no one must know about it," they were told to send me a photo and "at the end of the game, you die. Are you ready?"

The jounro received their first challenge, to scratch one of the games hashtags, "F58" into their arm. The journalist tried to fool the game's administrator with a Photoshopped image but the admin didn't fall for it and stopped replying.

Of course, there's no way of knowing if the person communicating with the journalist was really behind the game, it's more likely they too were a copycat who's jumping on the Blue Whale bandwagon. Like Free Radio Europe, it seems there are many people who are eager to play the game to expose those behind it or troll the curator.

However, trolling the game's admins might be easier said than done. Assuming the game even exists, finding it is seemingly impossible. Russian news reports claim that the game administrators often choose their victims through the infamous "suicide groups" of VKontakte, rather than the players themselves seeking out the game.

If the game does exists, it's not out in the open. You can't find the Blue Whale Challenge on Google or even on a Facebook group. According to news reports it exists in closed groups and in private message conversations between VK users.

If you are looking to play the game so that you can troll the admins, to expose them or to seek revenge, then you should be careful. If these people really exist then they are sick and warped individuals, anyone who encourages a vulnerable teen to take their own life is clearly unstable and you don't know what people like that are capable of.

By clicking a link that someone like this might send you or by downloading a file sent to you by a game administrator you could expose a security vulnerability on your phone or laptop that could allow the admin to steal your personal data which they could then use to blackmail, manipulate or trick you into playing.

Even if this game is a hoax, which it almost certainly is, it's better to stay away and let this "craze" die down rather than communicate with potentially dangerous individuals.

Start The Game

I first posted an article about the rumours of this sinister suicide game about six weeks ago and it quickly become the most commented on page of my website and it seemed that most of the comments were posted by teens asking how to play the game.

I decided to conduct a little experiment by adding a button to the page offering readers the chance to "start the game." By clicking the button readers were taken to a secondary page of my website which asked people why they had clicked the button and what they were hoping to find on this page.

Worryingly, most of the comments do come from teens saying they want to play and some were pretty dark, "I want to, I hate my life. Can I play?" wrote one commenter, while another said "yes, I want to play it's not like anyone's gonna care what happens anyway."

However some of comments came from concerned parents and teachers who were interested in the game and how it worked. My favourite of these comments read, "I'd get in touch with 'them', cut my arm, hand whatever, then finally I would ask to meet the trainer just before I would die... get him, tie him to the 44 tonne truck I drive, and drag him across England."

The Real Problem Is Being Missed By The Media

Laptop At Night
Photo: flickr.com

I think the bigger issue which is being overlooked by the press outside of Russia is the existence of these so called "death groups" or "suicide groups." These groups aren't rooted in internet myth and rumour, they are real groups set up on VK.com which attract teenagers and manipulate them by preying on vulnerabilities such as their appearance and perceived popularity in school.

Russian police have confirmed the existence of these groups which have been said to promote suicide. Last November a 21-year-old man was arrested in connection with a group he ran on VK, he was charged with incitement to suicide.

Russian authorities claim that this one man is at least partly responsible for the deaths of at least 15 of the 130 young people who committed suicide in the country between November 2015 to April 2016. However, there is no confirmed link between these 130 deaths and the Blue Whale game, but these teens did all have one thing in common, they were all part of the same social media groups.

Of course it seems obvious that someone that has suicidal tendencies might seek out groups like these, so while the groups might not exist primarily to convince teens to kill themselves, the type of shock content these pages post are doing nothing to help the problem.

There are no reports of these groups existing on any social media website apart from VKontakte and they haven't spread to any parts of the world beyond Russia, but for Russian authorities this is a big problem. The government there estimates that 720 minors committed suicide in 2016 alone.
If you'd like to talk to someone about suicide, there is free help available and someone willing to listen to you:
In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted for free on 116 123, or visit Mind’s website.
In the US, call 1 (800) 273-TALK.
In Australia, Lifeline is on 13 11 14.
Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

More On The Blue Whale Challenge

  • How To Find The Blue Whale Game

    August 10, 2017 6:00 AM

    Since I first wrote about the Blue Whale game in March, I've been asked many times if I can provide a link to the game's website or tell people where they can download the game for their smartphone.

  • Updated
    Join The Game

    August 09, 2017 7:00 AM

    Want to join the game, simply fill out your details in the easy to use sign up form on this page and if you're lucky, you might be able to create an account.

  • My Experience With The Blue Whale Game

    May 24, 2017 8:49 AM

    Early in March 2017 a friend posted a link on her Facebook, it was an alarmist post warning parents of the dangerous of Blue Whale, a deadly new teen suicide game that was sweeping across the world via social media and threatening to take the lives of teenagers here in the UK.

  • Who Is Behind The Blue Whale Suicide Game?

    May 14, 2017 8:18 AM

    A 21-year-old man in Russia has been arrested in connection with the evil Blue Whale suicide game which is said to target vulnerable teens and encourage them to perform a series of 50 tasks which include self-harm and ultimately suicide.

  • The Pink Whale Challenge

    The Pink Whale Challenge is a happier alternative to Blue Whale, over 30 days you will be set a series of challenges designed to make you and your friends smile. You don't need to send proof or keep this a secret, just enjoy the game and spread the cheer.

  • Blue Whale Game "Discovered" In Europe

    April 26, 2017 8:31 AM

    It seems the twisted "game" designed to prey on vulnerable teenagers has been spreading across Europe and one headmaster in the UK has even claims to have discovered the game in her school.

  • Want To Play The Blue Whale Suicide Game?

    March 31, 2017 7:57 AM

    Three weeks ago I posted an article about the sinister suicide game which is said to have claimed the lives of up to 130 Russian teens, it's become the most commented on page on my website with teens asking how they can play the game.

  • Blue Whale Challenge

    March 09, 2017 7:08 AM

    The Blue Whale Challenge is a sinister online game which, according to Russian media reports, have claimed the lives of up to 130 children who were urged to commit suicide as part of the game.

Share this:
Tags:

You May Also Like