Authorities warn about '48-Hour Challenge' that encourages teens to go missing

"We have enough work to do without kids creating work for us if they go missing because they think it's funny," Indiana official says.

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By Farnoush Amiri

Police are warning families about a viral '48-Hour Challenge' in hopes of discouraging teenagers from creating fake missing tales in an effort to gain traction on social media.

The hashtag encourages teens to disappear for up to two days and awards "points" to every social media mention they receive during that time.

"We are not trying to cause a panic among our community," the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office in Indiana wrote on its Facebook page Monday. "But we would not be doing our job if we didn't make you aware of a new 'challenge' that could become an issue."

Other law enforcement agencies across the country have issued similar warnings, but none have cited receiving any calls or reports of missing teens.

"We don't know that anyone is doing it yet, but we saw it out there and we wanted to present it to parents," Tippecanoe County Chief Deputy Steve Hartman told NBC News on Wednesday.

Hartman said officials want to get out in front of this trend in case it becomes more than a hashtag. He also warned that if reports do come in, this could distract officers who are helping people actually in need of police assistance.

"We have enough work to do without kids creating work for us if they go missing because they think it's funny," he said.

A similar challenge was reported in the United Kingdom in 2015 as the 'Game of 72,' which encouraged teens to hide from their parents for long periods of time and gain "points" through "likes" or mentions on social media.

The Michigan State Police also alerted the public of this game in 2017 after news reports came out about it trending.

"The only reason we put out a warning was because a local television station called us about the situation, so we responded,'' Michigan State Trooper Amy Belanger told the Detroit Free Press at the time. "We never had a reported incident here.''