The Pink Whale Challenge is an easily accessible challenge available online that sets out daily tasks for those who participate. But this challenge is diametrically opposite to the Blue Whale suicide challenge which has been linked to many deaths. The Pink Whale Challenge ‘encourages positive and generous acts and attempts to bring happiness in the participant’s daily life.’ The idea of the Pink Whale challenge was conceived in Brazil and the Facebook and Instagram pages where the tasks are set out already have over 3,40,000 followers. The challenge was started in April and Baleia Rosa, as it is called, has already set out 107 daily tasks for its participants.
Describing the projects aim, the administrators of the verified Facebook page Baleia Rosa (Pink Whale in Portuguese) said, “In order to prove that the internet can be used to viralize the good, the Pink Whale was born. We are not a self help group! We just believe that we are all capable of promoting love and good!”
The initiative has received favourable response from the authorities as well. The project is now aided by the Government of Sao Paulo State in Brazil. Apart from the social media platforms, the challenge can be accessed via baleiarosa.com.br and also via their free smartphone app which is available for Android and iOs devices. Though the social media pages operate in Portuguese, the website and mobile apps offer content in English, Portuguese and Spanish.
Find the Pink Whale page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/eusoubaleiarosa/. You can also find their Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/eusoubaleiarosa. You can follow the Pink Whale Challenge tasks on Twitter at @eusoubaleiarosa.
Unlike the Blue Whale challenge, the Pink Whale’s challenges don’t encourage self harm. It includes tasks like writing how you would help someone who’s being bullied, smiling at each person that passes you for an entire day, posting on your social media pages with the lines ‘I am beautiful’, learning something new from an internet tutorial, forgiving someone, apologising to someone, talking to someone who doesn’t talk much et al. Read | What’s the Internet ‘game’ killing young people worldwide?
The Pink Whale was started by a publicist and a graphic designer in the wake of the spread of the Blue Whale challenge. Although there is no academic endorsement that it can wipe out the Blue Whale challenge or defeat the suicidal tendencies, it seems to be an attempt at handling the issue on a core psychological level.
Read | Blue Whale challenge: These are the 5 suspected cases in India
Furthermore, the app doesn’t have the role of any curator or handler and it is completely voluntary. Users are not obliged to complete tasks and share evidence like in the Blue Whale challenge. However, if you do share photographs of your task completion, they put the photos on their website on a section called Whale Puppies that is a beautiful repository of the positive messages and pictures posted by participants.
All about the Blue Whale Challenge
The Blue Whale Challenge is a suicide challenge game that emerged on Russian social networks around 2015. The game’s creator 21-year-old Philipp Budeikin from Russian is under arrest and has confessed to creating the game and inciting people to commit suicide through the challenge.
Read | Kerala: Mother suspects Blue Whale 3 months after son’s suicide
The curator would assign the players an administrator who would set out 50 tasks spread over 50 days to the participants. The tasks were self-harming in nature including carving and cutting oneself making different shapes and writing certain letters, standing on the edge of a bridge, punishing oneself and vowing to become a whale, talking to other ‘whales’, several secret tasks and eventually committing suicide.
How do players access the game?
The game was popular on VKontakte, a social media platforms in Russia, but slowly spread to different countries and on different platforms. Reports have claimed that administrators chatted with players via these social media platforms or special apps not available on the app stores. It is also available with the names A Silent House’, ‘A Sea of Whales’ and ‘Wake Me Up at 4:20 AM’. The game conditions the players over the 50-day period to believe that they are whales exploiting the popular belief that whales beach to end their lives voluntarily.
What has the government done to help the situation?
Amid reports of many deaths in India being linked to this challenge, the government has written to internet and social media majors like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Instagram and Whatsapp to intervene immediately and remove all links to the suicide game from their platforms. The letter written by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad read: “Instances of children committing suicide while Blue Whale Challenge have been reported in India…You are hereby requested to ensure that any such link of this deadly game in its own name or similar game is immediately removed from your platform.”
It has also been taken up by Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
What more can be done?
Counselling and sensitisation of parents, teachers and children could be the immediate step to avoid further spreading of such challenges.
Government’s support to volunteer groups could also be crucial in this time. The Pink Whale Challenge could be seen as a case study where government support to a volunteer initiative brought the programme to lakhs of people and now it is followed more in Brazil than the Blue Whale Challenge.