Blue Whale Challenge: India among top nations to search for online suicide game
Google’s trends data shows Manipur and Nagaland are among the top states to search for the “Blue Whale Challenge” keyword. Kolkata is the top city in the world to search for the “blue whale challenge.”
The number of online search in India for the Blue Whale Challenge is among the highest globally, data from internet giant Google shows, raising a challenge for authorities to clamp down on the game linked to at least four suicides in the country.
The computer game, believed to have been developed in Russia in 2013, has become one of the most controversial online games worldwide and has been blamed for suicides by more than 130 teenagers worldwide.
Participants of the game are required to perform several tasks over a 50-day period, with suicide as the final "challenge".
Google's Trends, which analyses and collates the most popular search words or phrases, reveals that more and more people from India are searching for the Blue Whale game in the past 12 months.
The findings by Google Trends, however, does not necessarily mean that all those are looking for the suicide-linked game are actually playing it.
According to the report, the most searched keywords - a term used to describe words or phrases - include "blue whale challenge", "blue whale game challenge", "blue whale challenge game download" and "blue whale online challenge game download".
The report also gave a statewise breakdown of the trends.
While Manipur and Nagaland are among the top states to search for the "Blue Whale Challenge" keyword, Assam is on top for the "Blue Whale game challenge" search.
Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Tamil Nadu are the top three states to search for "blue whale challenge game download", the data said. City-wise data shows Kolkata is the top city in the world to search for the "blue whale challenge."
While the spike in searches for these terms was recorded in the last three months, August saw the highest numbers.
As authorities grappled with the emerging scenario, Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi on Friday asked school principals to be vigilant to prevent children from becoming victims of the game.
"It is sad to see young boys and girls falling victims to this destructive game....I am sure that if all teachers become vigilant and keep a sharp eye on the behaviour of their children, we can prevent further damage," she said in a letter to school principals across India.
The minister's letter came days after the government directed Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and other internet firms to take down links promoting Blue Whale Challenge.
Last month, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) also issued a circular to 18,000-odd schools asking them to install firewalls and filter and monitor software mechanisms in computers to prevent the game from spreading.