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Technology cannot curb Blue Whale challenge, only intervention can

Globally, efforts to curb online piracy through cyber watchdogs have succeeded only in bits and pieces

Raghu Krishnan  |  New Delhi 

Blue Whale challenge: Check your child's texts, call logs, says Goa police
The game, created by a Russian, Philipp Budeikin, is directly targeting children and encouraging them to harm themselves over 50 stages culminating in suicide.

The government's admission that it is hard to set up technological blocks for the Blue Whale Challenge, the online game that lures youngsters to partake in a number of challenges leading up to them taking their lives, is not an admission of failure.

It is a fact.

Globally, efforts to curb online piracy through cyber watchdogs have succeeded only in bits and pieces, despite billions of dollars being spent by companies and governments to curb the menace. The is not a technological problem, it's a societal one.

Unlike or mobile apps, where a user has to go to a website or download a game on their smartphones, the uses social networks to reach out to targeted individuals and then lure them to play.

They expect individuals, largely students in the age group of 12-19 to take photos of the undertaking challenge as proof of their acceptance. The handlers then use these images to blackmail individuals if they choose not to pursue the game.

There are other versions of the game, where a person is given tasks and once it is achieved, he/she is given more dangerous tasks that are potentially life-threatening.

So far, India has seen several students take their lives as part of the challenge. 

Hence, Sneha Kalita, a advocate had petitioned the with a public interest litigation asking the government to take steps to prevent the spread of this game.

While the government's effort has been targeted towards asking internet companies to block such links, the true solution to the problem is better intervention.

In the early 2000s, Napster, the peer to peer music sharing platform had users rip music albums and share it with their friends  It became an overnight success and got caught in copyright violations. While the legal tangle hurt its business, ultimately its model of peer to peer sharing was killed by Apple, when it launched iPod.

Apple allowed users to buy individual songs rather than highly priced albums. 

That model is being disrupted by music streaming where users buy a monthly subscription for an unlimited number of songs.

cannot avert concerns such as Blue Whale Challenge, only interventions can.

Most victims who have taken up this challenge are students and are lonely. 

Either there is pressure at home on them to score better grades in academics or they don't have enough friends to share their feelings that they become vulnerable.

Getting kids to shun the game can only be achieved by engaging with them. Parents need to spend time and be friends with them. They need to get involved in outdoor games. At the end of the day, this is the only way they won't fall prey to games such as

First Published: Tue, November 21 2017. 15:57 IST