For your Monday dose of truly befuddling Gen Z news, teens in the US are going missing on purpose for likes on social media.
The deeply concerning trend has been dubbed the “48-hour challenge”, and comes with a warning from police after several stories popped up on the internet.
Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky will get you up to speed on what you need to know today….
“It encourages teens to go missing for up to two days at a time and awards points for every social media mention while they’re missing,” local news service KMOV reports.
Police have warned parents of the terrifying game, explaining that it is not only potentially dangerous for the kids who participate, it takes authorities and resources away from real emergencies.
Anyone caught participating in the challenge could face charges.
The challenge was first mentioned in a 2017 Daily Mail article, which claimed children in Michigan were playing a similar game, but aiming to go missing for 72 hours instead.
In that instance, as determined by fact-checking site Snopes, it was found to be a hoax.
“In April 2015, the Daily Mail published a thinly sourced article titled ‘Parents left terrified by cruel new game on Facebook that sees children dare each other to vanish for 72 hours without telling relatives,’” Snopes wrote in 2017.
“As with other panics of similar nature, the article breathlessly described as a ‘game’ that sounded of no real interest to teens whatsoever and included scant evidence that participants were actually undertaking the purported challenge.”
While there have been no reports of where the “48-hour challenge” originated, police say they are taking it seriously.
They have likened the game to other viral social media challenges, such as eating Tide Pods and the recent “Bird Box challenge”, where people attempt dangerous tasks blindfolded, prompting Netflix to issue a warning.
Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 2, 2019