Momo is fake - here's the truth
Recently, there have been widespread reports from very reputable sources about a demonised figure lovingly named "Momo". Whilst varied, the reports generally agree that Momo is targeting children and encouraging self harm or even suicide. TrueSay is here to give you the truth.
As usual in current times, these reports appeared first on social media. Facebook posts can be seen stating that Momo has been appearing in 'hacked' youtube videos of Peppa Pig and other children's tv shows. Some reports say that Momo would then 'challenge' viewers to self harm and post pictures of the results. Others state that Momo would tell the children to take pills and start fires, and then threaten to harm the viewer's parents if they told them of the situation.
In fact, Momo is actually a sculpture made by Japanese special effects company Link Factory and is called "Mother Bird". It is currently on display in a horror art gallery called Vanilla Gallery.
There have been many stories indicating that people have died as a result of this game, but not a single one has been found genuine. One story in 2018 appeared showing a 12 year old girl who had hung herself from a tree after watching Momo, but the authorities in Argentina rejected this claim and are instead pursuing an 18 year old male who may be believed to have encourage her to take her own life.
Two men in India as well as another pair in Columbia have also been reported as being a result of the Momo challenge. None of these deaths have actually been verified and there is no evidence of this sculpture or anything impersonating it causing, or convincing anyone to cause, any harm.
It is therefore safe to say that your children can watch Peppa Pig online in peace, without fearing Momo. Nevertheless, it is wise to keep an eye on your children's online activity, in order to ensure their safety.
Anchor Butter does not give you HIV
This post appears to make a reappearance every few months targeting a different food product. It warns you against eating Anchor butter because of a contamination that occurred at Westbury Dairy. According to the post, a man added his HIV infected blood to the butter during production and claims BBC News has also reported the story.
This is a false claim.
Interestingly, the Anchor butter is produced at Westbury Dairies, which is based in Wiltshire. A representative of the company which owns Westbury Dairies, Arla Foods UK, confirmed to Snopes.com that the post is fake. There is no record of such events on the BBC News website either, leading us to conclude that the entirety of the post is false.
Those who share this post and others like it seem to be genuinely worried about the possibility of spreading HIV and the linked risk of AIDS. However, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have clearly explained that HIV cannot be transmitted through food.
"You can’t get HIV from consuming food handled by an HIV-infected person. Even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus."
The only known cases where infection has occurred through food has been where a person has eaten food that has been pre-chewed by a HIV infected person - and even then, the infected person must have blood in their mouth at the time of chewing. This is therefore very rare and should not be a concern for the majority of the population.
A seemingly older claim has been making the rounds again on social media sites like Facebook. The post seems to make two claims; 1) Illegal immigrants are given just under £30,000 a year in benefits, and 2) Pensioners in Britain are paid a total of £6,000 a year in benefits.
The first thing to point out with the first claim is that by the very nature of an immigrant being illegal, they would not be able to claim state benefits. An illegal immigrant is an immigrant that is not legally able to remain in the country, and if their status was discovered by the relevant authorities, those immigrants are likely to be removed from the country. Therefore they would not be able to claim benefits such as income support or otherwise rely on the UK's welfare system.
The more relevant group of people are refugees. Refugees are immigrants who have successfully claimed asylum in the UK, and are technically entitled to the same benefits as a UK national. It is important to note that in order to be eligible for asylum, an applicant must be unable to live in their own country because they fear persecution as a result of their race, religion or political opinions. However, in most cases, this is dependant on the refugee's tax contributions. For example, in order to claim Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA), you need to have made enough National Insurance contributions in the two years beforehand. Therefore, if you've never worked in the UK, you can't get contributions based JSA. Thus in reality, refugees will still be less entitled to welfare than British nationals.
Asylum seekers - those who have not yet been successful in their application - are even less entitled to benefits in the UK. Currently, they are only entitled to £37.75 per week per person. That is just £1,963 a year. However, for those with nowhere to sleep, housing can be provided to the asylum seeker temporarily. Asylum seekers do not get a choice where they live, and London and the South of England are not likely destinations. However, even with the housing provision for those who need it the most, this group of people does not come close to the £29,900 that is claimed.
Therefore it is clear the first claim is false and should not be taken for a fact.
In relation to the second claim that pensioners who have worked for the last 45 years are only entitled to £6,000 in benefits, this is also false. A man who has been working since his 18th birthday and born in 1955 will have a state retirement age of 66 years old, and therefore will receive a state pension from his 66th birthday. Currently, he will be entitled to a state pension of £164.35 per week. This equates to £8,546.20 per year.
This is only the amount of state pension he will receive. The man will still be entitled to several other benefits, including pension credit, housing benefit and disability living allowances (now personal independence payments). Thus rather than the maximum total benefit being £6,000 as is claimed by the post, a pensioner living in the UK has access to a generous welfare system, alongside a state guaranteed pension.
Clearly the second claim in the post is also false and should not be regarded as true.
It is important to note the significance of the motives behind posts such as these. Whilst some may be pursuing 'likes' and attention, others are attempting to incite hate towards those who may be perceived as 'illegal immigrants'. The danger of spreading this type of misinformation therefore should not be understated.
For information in relation to this post, please see the government note on the matter, "Viral emails protesting about financial assistance for "illegal immigrants/refugees living in Britain".
Tom is the executive editor of TrueSay. He is due to train as a solicitor from 2020. For now, he wants to help stop the spread of misinformation.