Young people in France who share videos as part of the Neknomination online drinking craze could face up to two years in jail if a charity succeeds in a legal complaint.
The game, which is reported to have started in Australia and spread around the world, involves people filming themselves downing a drink before nominating others to follow suit.
That often amounts to “endangering the life of another” or “forcing minors to drink excessive alcohol”, according to France’s National Association for Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction (ANPAA), crimes punishable with prison sentences up to two years.
In the UK and Ireland, Neknomination is believed to have claimed its fifth victim when 20-year-old Bradley Eames filmed himself last month drinking two pints of gin.
And though there have been no similar deaths in France, a series of “accidents resulting in serious injuries” have led to widespread concern among public officials.
This week the ANPAA filed legal proceedings which, if accepted by the courts, could see posting Neknomination videos declared illegal under current French laws.
Speaking to the French edition of The Local, ANPAA president Alain Rigaud said: “Young people who start Neknomination challenges are not only putting themselves in danger but inciting other young people – mostly minors – to consume large amounts of alcohol, which is illegal.
“There are immediate risks such as accidents, as well as health and behavioural problems. In the case of adolescents who are still maturing and developing it can also have an impact on the brain which can affect their ability to learn and reduce their psycho-social skills.”
Mr Rigaud said that while it was all very well giving young people and parents “advice” regarding Neknominations, the game brought “immediate risks” which had to be “dealt with”.
He added that the game showed how social media networks had become “a global problem”, and said “the question of their responsibility must also be asked”.