Talking Angela, an app game designed for children, has been the subject of viral messages saying that “pedophiles” are behind it or the game is causing children to behave in a way that should be of concern. But these messages are unfounded and aren’t true, reports said.
A number of mainstream media outlets, including USA Today and The Guardian, have debunked the rumors, saying it’s just a hoax that’s gone viral. But as of Tuesday night, people were still sharing rumors about the game on Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail.
The game’s maker, OutFit7, also said the rumors are not true.
“Talking Angela” is a game about an anthropomorphic cat that one converses with. Some of the rumors claim that Angela, who has a French accent, talks dirty if you ask her certain questions. But reporters with The Guardian, About.com, security firm Sophos, hoax-debunking site Snopes, security expert Graham Cluley said Angela does no such thing.
There are legitimate concerns about the game’s “child mode,” which can be easily toggled on and off. However, it was discovered that turning it off didn’t really do much, except it didn’t ask about children’s names or discuss clothes-swapping. Children also aren’t supposed to use the text-chat feature, but it not clear how to toggle it on or off.
“It’s all hysteria,” said Chester Wisniewski, with Sophos, told USA Today about the hoax e-mails and Facebook messages about the game.
One viral message claims that a person’s daughter, named Angelica, stayed at home to play the game on her iPod. Angela then asks Angelica where her brother is located and “then its voice changes and in some weird robotic voice it says angelica when u date what do u do on your dates,” the hoax message reads.
Another one claims that there’s a person taking pictures of children via the game.
The “Talking Angela” hoax has been around since at least 2013, Sophos pointed out a year ago.
Samo Login, the co-founder and CEO of Outfit7–which developed the game–told USA Today that it’s impossible for a human to take over the game.
“It’s quite easy to get the illusion you are talking to a real person, but it’s physically impossible to have someone behind the app,” Login told the paper. He described the Facebook warnings as “ridiculous.”
As a result of the publicity, “Talking Angela” has become one of the most popular games on Google Play and the App Store.
Here’s a few of the warnings that you probably shouldn’t share:
“WARNING FOR TO ALL PARENTS WITH CHILDREN THAT HAVE ANY ELECTRONIC DEVICES , EX : IPOD,TABLETS ETC …. THERE IS A SITE CALLED TALKING ANGELA , THIS SITE ASKS KIDS QUESTIONS LIKE : THERE NAMES , WHERE THEY GO TO SCHOOL AND ALSO TAKE PICTURES OF THEIR FACES BY PUSHING A HEART ON THE BOTTOM LEFT CORNER WITHOUT ANY NOTICES . PLEASE CHECK YOUR CHILDREN’S IPODS AND ALL TO MAKE SURE THEY DO NOT HAVE THIS APP !!! PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS THAT HAVE KIDS !!!!”
Another one reads: “I cant even in words say what I just found out.. I am SHOCKED and want to tell and let my friends and family be made aware so they can make sure their children are safe!!! Angelica stayed home from school today and thank GOD she did. Because she was on her ipod playing a game called talking angela, which is similar to talking tom, anyway as she is sitting next to me this interactive cat says to her hi angelica where is your brother?…”
There’s another rumor that was published by a satire news site, saying that a 7-year-old boy was abducted via the game. It was published on Huzlers.com, which only posts fake news.