A recent Facebook post is warning parents that a “creepy online figure”, a character known as Huggy Wuggy, is appearing in videos telling children to “kill their parents & little babies”.
The post attracted more than 9 million views in just a couple of weeks after being posted in early April 2022.
It shows a screenshot of an Instagram post by Kidspot, an Australian website that publishes parenting tips, advice and news stories. The original Instagram post was uploaded on 4 April, along with a corresponding article on the Kidspot website.
Africa Check reached out to Kidspot for evidence of videos encouraging children to commit violent acts. At time of writing, the outlet had not responded.
It is understandable that parents might be horrified at the thought of young children being exposed to the Huggy Wuggy character. But is the claim true? We checked.
Huggy Wuggy from scary video game not meant for kids
The character, Huggy Wuggy, looks like a demented teddybear, with with a creepy smile, razor-sharp teeth and googly eyes.
And it is real – in the sense that the character exists. It originates in a video game called Poppy Playtime.
With an age restriction of at least 12 years and older, depending on the platform, the survival horror game is not intended for young children.
Fears centre around fan-made videos on social media
These fears appear to have first been sparked by concerned parents and teachers in the UK, who reported children had been reciting disturbing phrases from songs in online videos featuring Huggy Wuggy.
One mother told Sky News her toddler tried to climb up her bedroom window saying he “would die and come back to life”, and “that’s what Huggy Wuggy does”.
Many reports relate to one particular video, made by a fan of the game and uploaded to YouTube and TikTok. The video features Huggy Wuggy singing a song that includes the line: “Cause I could just hug you here. Forever, forever. Till you breathe your last breath.” The character does not sing songs in the original Poppy Playtime game.
The video’s creator told fact-checking website Snopes that the upload settings for the video would not have enabled it to appear on YouTube Kids. At time of writing, the phrase “Huggy Wuggy” was not searchable on YouTube Kids. A YouTube spokesperson also told Sky News that the videos were not available on the children’s platform.
No evidence of kids being instructed to commit violent acts
Other unofficial videos featuring Huggy Wuggy, also made by fans of the video game, can easily be found on YouTube, TikTok and other social media platforms. But we could not find any videos that included instructions or encouragement for children to commit any violent act.
The Kidspot article includes a hyperlinked quote that Huggy Wuggy “encourages kids to ‘kill babies and their parents’”. But it links to another Kidspot article that doesn’t mention Huggy Wuggy or the Poppy Playtime video game.
The Facebook post reposting the Kidspot Instagram story mentioned that Huggy Wuggy was “like Momo but worse”, but this “challenge” was an internet hoax. Concerns about Huggy Wuggy videos are equally unfounded.
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
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Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.