GUANGDONG - A Chinese student was arrested for allegedly running a chat group which had members play the Blue Whale online game.
The game, which encourages self-harm and suicide, has been linked to teen deaths in Russia.
Participants are told to perform one task a day for 50 days. It starts with watching scary movies for an entire day and waking up at odd hours but tasks get progressively extreme and end with suicide on day 50.
The 17-year-old student from Zhanjiang in Guangdong has been charged with "spreading extremism", China state television reported on Wednesday (May 17). He allegedly ran a group with 500 members.
The teen surnamed Xu is the founder of a chat group for buying and selling software and clothes, Hong Kong Free Press reported.
He told police he posted photos of self-mutilation in his chat group. He claimed he was using the game to attract more people to his chat group.
Police said he wrote "congratulations to 11 members of the group for completing a mission from the Blue Whale Challenge" to the group.
But Xu said this was false and just an attempt to boost his chat group's popularity.
The suicide game, named for the way whales beach themselves and die, was invented by Philipp Budeikin, a 21-year-old psychology student from Russia.
The game is believed to be responsible for more than 130 suicides in Russia and has spread to the United States, Italy, Eastern Europe and parts of China's Anhui and Yunnan provinces, according to Chinese police.
China's largest social media and online game operator, Tencent, has confirmed there are people organising and participating in the game via its platform, the South China Morning Post reported.
There have also been scams linked to the game in China. In one instance, young women were asked to take nude photos of themselves for a challenge and the pictures were used to blackmail them, the China News Agency reported.