There have been numerous hot trends over the past number of years which have all begun on social networking sites.  Included in these were Planking (a simple lying flat on top of an object and taking a picture for all to see),Selfies (taking a picture of oneself for no particular reason) and more recentlyNek Nomination.

A Nek Nomination is where one person would drink or ‘down’ a pint of alcohol while recording themselves.  As soon as they completed this task, they would then nominate one or two more parties to complete the same objective within a period of 24 hours.  It would seem that this trend began in Australia as a running joke between a group of friends.  As with all social media trends in this day and age, the activity spread freely and quickly across the internet to all corners of the world.  Any person on Facebook would have noticed over the last couple of weeks that Nek Nominations were rife on their profile.

Recently a young Carlow man (Jonny Byrne) (19) was found dead after falling into the River Barrow.  It is understood that the devastating accident occurred while he was attempting a Nek Nomination.  Who is actually responsible for such a tragedy? It seems that no person or entity is directly responsible for the actual tragedy, but a couple of similar factors or reasons can be attributed to accidents like this.  Social media now opens up a very large audience to which to perform such activities and with so many people participating, the activities tend to gain attention and grow at every stage. There appears to be an ever present quest to outperform the previous video or picture. There is also a lack of education surrounding such activities on social networking sites and the dangers of them.  The tragic circumstances in which Jonny Byrne lost his life recently could and should have been avoided.

However, there is some hope. Even now there is a change in the trend.  For example: a Facebook user in Australia who, when Nek Nominated recently, decided not to down a drink but in fact performed a good deed.  This trend is now going global.  It was the same request, on the same social media platform, yet the outcome was so different.

There may be a case to state that where a new trend is taking foot which creates activity over a large number of profile users, on any social networking site, then attention should be brought to the administrators who can deal with the matter at an early stage and assist in stopping a dangerous trend at the very start, maybe even turning the trend positive. Once again however, it seems loss of life is what is required to draw attention and to stop negative issues occurring on social media in the 21st century.

William Clarke is a partner in Clarke Jeffers & Co. Solicitors who specialises in Internet Law.  You can contact William on 059-9131656 or    © Clarke Jeffers 2014