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Twitter and Facebook should introduce health warnings to tackle the internet binge drinking game ‘NekNomination’, says a local government body.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, is urging the social media websites to post prominent messages on their sites, spelling out the risks. These could be along the lines of the shock cautions emblazoned on cigarette packets, it suggests.
The call comes after social media users have filmed themselves consuming strong alcohol; with dog food, motor oil or live goldfish as part of the craze. They then post the footage online and nominate their friends on social media to repeat the ‘dare’.
The LGA points to councils launching internet safety campaigns providing links for parents, carers and young people who use the internet, and offering advice over alcohol-related issues. NekNomination warning notices have been requested by schools so they can be put up on notice boards and read out at assemblies.
Cllr Katie Hall, Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “This is an utterly reckless and totally irresponsible craze which has tragically claimed lives. More should be done to highlight the dangers and persuade people not to participate.
“We believe social media operators have a responsibility to provide health warnings to user groups and individuals.
“The LGA is looking for these corporations to show leadership and not ignore what is happening on their sites. We are urging Facebook and Twitter executives to sit down with us and discuss a way forward which tackles this issue head-on. NekNomination is at the extreme end of a very long wedge. Each year, there are over 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions, over 8000 deaths and 17 million working days are lost. The annual cost to the NHS is £3.5 billion. A quarter of acute male admissions to hospital are alcohol induced.”
Boston Borough Council in Lincolnshire is encouraging NekNominees to contact their community safety team. Main secondary schools are posting warning notices up and mentioning it in school assemblies.
Sevenoaks District Council is launching an internet safety campaign to provide links and advice for parents, carers and young people who use the web
Worcestershire County Council has called for people not to participate. Alcohol-related illness cost Worcestershire’s NHS more than £25 million and about 60 people die every year in Worcestershire where alcohol is a contributing factor.