A new Snapchat challenge is already generating warnings from police.
Inspector Jim Jones, an officer from the town of Bury, near Manchester, UK, recently tweeted: “Officers tonight have attended several incidents of people hanging off motorway bridges. Those spoken to claim it’s a Snapchat challenge to post pictures leaning over bridges. How irresponsible can you get.”
The Greater Manchester Police posted a similar warning to its Facebook page, which read: “URGENT APPEAL. PLEASE CAN ALL YOUTHS AND PARENTS ALIKE STAY WELL CLEAR OF MOTORWAY BRIDGES. THERE HAVE BEEN RECENT REPORTS OF YOUTHS CLIMBING OVER BRIDGES TO TAKE PHOTOS OF VEHICLES PASSING BELOW — FOLLOWING SNAPCHAT/FACEBOOK REQUESTS. THESE PLACES ARE VERY VERY DANGEROUS PLACES AND PEOPLE ARE PUTTING THEMSELVES IN GREAT DANGER IN SO DOING. TO DATE POLICE HAVE RESPONDED TO NUMEROUS SUCH INCIDENTS.”
And, it’s true. Apparently there were three different incidents in the space of 80 minutes where teenagers in Bury were standing on the wrong side of a railway on a busy overpass. And locals are getting suitably freaked out about it.
On Facebook, Rachel Victoria Lee said: “I saw them doing it today. Scared me to death. Rang 999 hope the got a right bollocking.” And Ramsbottom McDougle added: “I thought that Snapchat was just something that they used for sending pictures of their bits to one and other.”
This is such a uniquely British trend, isn’t it? This, however, may actually be one of those “trends” that is media fabricated as much as anything else. We found a half dozen articles online warning about this dangerous new Snapchat “craze,” but none of them have any information other than the same 3 incidents Inspector Jones referred to in his post. And searches for “Snapchat Bridge” or “Bridge Challenge” don’t show any significant movement on Google Trends.
In fact, the only search term in this area that shows any online movement is the “Snapchat Expose Yourself Challenge.” That’s likely what Ramsbottom McDougle was talking about earlier. Sending pictures of naughty bits to each other.
So, is this a case of media outlets taking an isolated incident and pretending it’s a dangerous social media craze? Maybe, maybe not. Most online challenges are pretty organic in nature, so there’s every possibility that teenagers could start doing this in waves, though hopefully common sense would prevail.
Something similar may also be happening with the Blue Whale Challenge, which is being blamed for deaths in Russia. In the Blue Whale challenge, a player completes tasks every day for 50 days, and they win when they commit suicide on the 50th day. The deaths of two Russian teenagers have been linked to participation in the self-harm challenge, and the UK’s Mirror believes that the challenge, promoted by “online death groups,” may have claimed the lives of hundreds of Russian teens.
But, a Snopes investigation found that evidence is flimsy linking hundreds of deaths to the Blue Whale Challenge. The original story writing about the Blue Whale Challenge was flawed, and links between the challenge and suicides could not be independently verified, despite many articles claiming that the challenge was spreading around the world.
What do you guys think? Is there a chance that the Snapchat Bridge Challenge or the Blue Whale Challenge will really become dangerous trends? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.