'Neknomination' online drinking game: Northern Ireland Facebook page shut after deaths linked to dares craze
A Facebook page for young people in Northern Ireland to showcase their neknomination drinking dares has been shut down.
Facebook users around the world have been playing the game, with dozens of video stunts appearing across the site in recent days.
Over 10,000 Facebook users 'liked' or indicated their support for the local page since it was set up last Tuesday.
However, yesterday those behind it said it would be discontinued and will instead run as an alcohol awareness page on the social networking site.
The move followed the deaths of two young men in the Republic. Jonathan Byrne drowned in Co Carlow while playing the game and Ross Cummins was found dead in Dublin at the weekend.
One of those responsible for the site said: "We made the decision a few nights ago to no longer continue to run the page the way it was originally set up.
"All videos have been removed and we'd like to continue as a neknomination awareness page, highlighting the dangers surrounding the game."
Neknomination is an online drinking game that has gained momentum in recent weeks on both sides of the border. The aim of the game is to down a pint of alcohol and then nominate someone else to do the same, giving them a window of 24 hours to do so.
Most people who take part make a video of themselves carrying it out, and post it on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
The concept of the game has been described as: "Neck your drink. Nominate another. Don't break the chain, don't be a d***. The social drinking game for social media! #neknominate. Drink Responsible".
Facebook, which celebrates its 10th birthday today, has rejected calls to ban pages and videos linked to the craze.
The social network giant has reviewed videos linked to the craze but said that the posting of such material is not a breach of its rules or "community standards".
Its in-house rules define harmful content as organising world violence, theft, property destruction or something that directly inflicts emotional distress.
A Facebook spokesman said it aims to be a platform for people to share freely whilst still protecting the rights of others.
"We do not tolerate content which is directly harmful, for example bullying, but controversial or offensive behaviour is not necessarily against our rules," he said.
"We encourage people to report things to us which they feel break our rules," he said.