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China: Around The Nation

Chinese student charged with ‘extremism’ over Blue Whale suicide game chat group

Authorities across the country on the alert over the spread of the game, which has been linked with teen deaths worldwide

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 3:00pm

A 17-year-old student in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, has been arrested and charged with “spreading extremism” over a chat group he ran about the Blue Whale online game that encourages players to harm themselves or even commit suicide.

State television reported on Wednesday that the student ran an online chat group with 500 members. He told the police that he had uploaded photos and information about the game to the group, but that a comment he posted offering congratulations to 11 players on completing Blue Whale tasks was false and just an attempt to gain attention.

The Blue Whale game, which has attracted the attention of authorities worldwide, involves “administrators” setting “challengers” a series of tasks to be completed in a certain time.

The tasks can start off being relatively harmless, for example watching horror movies for long hours or waking up at unusual times, but gradually become more extreme, often ending up with participants being asked to kill themselves.

Groups linked to ‘Blue Whale’ suicide game found on Chinese messaging site

The game is believed to have originated in Russia and has been linked to many teen deaths globally.

China’s largest social media and online game operator, Tencent, has confirmed there are people organising and participating in the game via its platform, and has promised to crack down. It has called on users to report any games.

Local media in Anhui, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces have reported suspected cases of people playing the game, while Beijing’s municipal authorities have deleted some 1,300 social media posts relating to Blue Whale.

Authorities in at least 15 provinces across China have used their social media accounts to urge teenagers to stay away from the game and to ask parents to be aware of it.

There have also been scams linked to the game in China, including one where young women were asked to take nude photos of themselves for a challenge, but the pictures were later used to blackmail them, the China News Agency reported.