The ‘Game of 72′ allegedly challenges teens to vanish without a trace for three days. (Photo: DaniloAndjus/Getty Images)
A new game that teens are allegedly playing on Facebook – in which they challenge each other to “disappear” for three days – is supposedly making the rounds in Europe, and has police in the U.S. and Canada taking note.
The “Game of 72” started in France, according to the French website The Local. To play, participants vanish for three days – or 72 hours – without contacting any friends or family. The game was reportedly to blame for the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl the French press identified as Emma, who went missing for three days at the end of April before showing up at home unharmed and refusing to reveal to her parents or law enforcement where she’d been.
A police department in a Boston suburb recently posted a message on Facebook alerting parents of teens to the game. A spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department also recently advised parents to speak to their kids about the “foolish” game. Yet there are no concrete examples of anyone playing, despite widespread media coverage in outlets ranging from Fox to the Daily Mail. So is this game an urban legend or something parents should familiarize themselves with, like Slender Man?
The challenge, which allegedly awards more points the more panic that is caused by the disappearance, has parents in Europe worked up, and police confused. According to The Local, authorities haven’t been able to identify any actual examples of the game being played online – only posts from terrified parents sending warnings across social media. The only evidence that Emma was involved comes from her own testimony, the paper reported.
After two girls in Britain went missing over the weekend, speculation arose that they, too, were playing the game, according to The Daily Express. Sammy Clarke and Siobhan Clarke, who are not related, were found safe on Monday. Police have not confirmed whether the girls were playing the game, though friends and neighbors told the papers they suspected it. Still, local authorities have arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with the incident, The Daily Express reported.
Facebook did not respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment.
The Revere, Massachusetts police department posted information about the game for parents on its Facebook page on May 1, where it was shared more than 1K times. “Parents need to be aware of a new ‘game’ traveling around social media involving children daring each other to vanish for 72 hours,” it read. “Originating in France, teens are sending private messages to each other via Social Media, challenging them to disappear without any contact to anyone for 72 hours. #Gameof72”
Revere Police Lieutenant Amy O’Hara confirmed to Yahoo Parenting that the department posted the message for “informational purposes” only. “We have not seen anything like this in Revere,” she says. “I don’t even think it’s hit the U.S., just Europe.”
Vancouver Police are also urging parents to parents to have conversations with kids about succumbing to any questionable Facebook challenges, and say that teens need to seriously think about their actions before accepting such dares. (However, the department confirms to Yahoo Parenting that they have not seen evidence of the game being played in Canada.) “Hearing what the ‘Game of 72′ is and what it’s all about, police can definitely use their resources in a better way than looking for people who aren’t missing or aren’t at risk,” Vancouver Sergeant Randy Fincham tells Yahoo Parenting. “We ask that people rethink their actions before getting involved in anything this silly.”
Fincham says it’s still unclear if the “Game of 72″ is even a real thing. “It could be an urban legend, but Vancouver Police respond to 3,000 missing persons reports each year. We go to great lengths to find those people, and this game could take away from our ability to look for people who need to be found,” he says. “We’d rather focus our attention on the people who really need our help.”