The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (Ministério Público Federal) in São Paulo has contacted Google – responsible for YouTube – to investigate the release of videos that encourage self-mutilation and suicide through the virtual game Baleia Azul (Blue Whale). The goal is to make the video website have more control over the content, and study eventual liability of the company if the videos are not removed.
The subject has been gaining repercussion in Brazil over the last few days with several reports of suicides and self-mutilations, that supposedly would be connected to the Blue Whale game. The cases have mobilized school principals and teachers, family members and the police, who investigate whether the game really exists and who would be responsible for encouraging the aggressions.
In the past month, the Citizens’ Rights Regional Attorney was already able to remove eleven videos that encouraged young people to self-mutilate or even commit suicide, always based on the most popular criteria. The MPF, however, has not yet opened an investigation against the game Blue Whale.
The investigation into the channels that broadcast the videos began this year, after the Instituto Dimicuida, in Fortaleza, pointed out to the MPF the existence of at least 19,000 videos with such content on the Internet. A meeting between the prosecutors of the MPF of São Paulo, Google and the entity from Ceará must take place in April. The goal is to search for mechanisms to filter the videos.
Participation of teenagers in the game ‘Blue Whale’ – in which ‘curators’ incite participants in social networks to cause injuries on themselves and even to attack their own lives – ignited a warning in homes and schools about suicide prevention. The Computer Crime Repression Office (DRCI) confirmed two cases of children who tried to interrupt their lives after participating in online challenges.
They are two girls of 14 years, one of the capital and another of the interior of the state of Rio, who gave testimony to the Civil Police. In the case of a 12-year-old girl who attempted suicide at a school in Rio, the relationship with the ‘Blue Whale’ game was discarded. Another teenager of 14 years should be heard by the DRCI. The investigation aims to alert parents and teachers about the existence of the game.
To avoid enticing other minors, the police rely on the help of parents and teachers: they should check for any change in student behavior, including personal injury. “From the beginning of the game they are encouraged to make injuries. Monitor social networks and come to us. Not only the parents of the victims, like the parents of friends and the teachers should look for the police station,” the police recommended.