Neknominate drinking game spreading on social media

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(CNN) The video starts off with a man in his 20s with a large glass of what looks like orange juice.

The man thanks a friend, Luke, for “the nomination.” He then chugs the drink in a single gulp.

It may look like one of thousands of drinking challenges popular on YouTube. But this is a very different game.

The drink is a Sambuca cocktail and this video is one of many sweeping the United Kingdom as part of a drinking game called Neknominate.

The game is thought to have originated in Australia, specifically Perth.  Officials in Canada have reported seeing the game and Canadian teachers and police officers have condemned the game.

The rules are simple. People film themselves neking — or downing a large drink. When they finish they then nominate three other people to do the same. Those three then have to record a video downing a large drink and nominate three more.

Neknominate has been blamed as the cause of four deaths in the UK. All of the victims were men under 30 and died of alcohol overdose.

“This is a lethal game,” said Dr. Sarah Jarvis a medical adviser for Drinkaware. “The point about alcohol is that it affects your ability to recognize that you’re in danger, and it absolutely affects your ability to react to danger. So we have a double whammy,”

The videos are shared on social media. Anyone who fails to respond to a nomination can be ridiculed on Facebook or Twitter.

Each nomination becomes more and more daring and outlandish.

One video showed a man drinking liquor out of a toilet. Another showed a woman stripping in the supermarket and downing a drink.

British politicians have called on schools to monitor mentions of neknominations and helping children resist peer pressure.

Brian Viner son has played the game. He said responsibility must come from Facebook, which still today displays advertisements next to videos of people taking part in the challenges.

Viner said his son was nominated and pressured to play the game but drank water instead of vodka so as not to harm himself.

“The whole thing is madness and it needs some kind of sharp and swift action on the part of these social networks to stop it,” Viner said.

Facebook has said that it does “not tolerate content which is directly harmful, for example bullying, but behavior which some people may find offensive or controversial is not always necessarily against our rules. We encourage people to report things to us which they feel breaks our rules so we can review and take action on a case by case basis.”

Doctor Sarah Jarvis says Facebook must recognize its own role in the game.

“It’s very difficult in this day of personal liberties to say that Facebook shouldn’t be condoning this or taking these videos offline,” Jarvis said. “Personally, I would like to see that happen. Frankly, if the thrill wasn’t there, your mates weren’t seeing you I expect it would very rapidly fizz out.”