The Internet, an enormous mechanism for creating unfounded rumors that alarm your parents and grandparents, has done it again. This time it’s the “Game of 72,” a diabolical contest in which teens run away from home for several days, just to see if they can. Except—surprise, surprise—the Game of 72 is not a real thing.

The BBC reports that this whole thing got started with a 13-year-old French girl who went missing and told the cops that it was all a game, just a dare to disappear for 72 hours without telling her parents. (There’s already been Daily Mail coverage, of course.) Has the Internet struck again???? Nope:

The story was picked up by other outlets in France and when the English-language website The Local reported on it, British and North American news outlets were not far behind. A Facebook post - later taken down or deleted - warned parents about the game and was shared thousands of times.

There’s just one problem - the story about Emma doesn’t check out. Francois Perain, the prosecutor in Valenciennes, the district where the incident took place, told BBC Trending that the game “seems to be an excuse”.

In fact they’re pretty sure that in fact the 13-year-old was running off with someone. But you combine a news story in another language, digital news, and social media, and the truth stops mattering real quick. Mic says:

“We never issued a warning about the game as has been reported,” Constable Brian Montague, a spokesman for the Vancouver Police Department, told Mic in an email. “We responded to questions about it from media and unfortunately they turned it into a warning from police.”

The VPD was featured in a recent news story about the fad, which included an interview with an online awareness expert. “The game’s popularity shows that parents need to stay up to the minute on their kids’ computer habits,” the story reads.


He said that in fact, there weren’t any confirmed examples in Canada. Nor does it look like there are confirmed cases anywhere else, for that matter. Teens are busy snorting ground-up cat food or something. Go back to your lives, citizens!

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