Minister Rabbitte calls on Facebook to remove ‘neknominate’ pages

3 Feb 2014

Pat Rabbitte, Ireland's Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Reacting to ‘neknominations’, Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, TD, has called on Facebook to take down pages featuring the latest social media craze.

The minister had been asked on this morning’s RTÉ’s Morning Ireland show about the online phenomenon after the second death related to the craze which involves people recording footage of themselves attempting to drink a pint or more of alcohol before nominating a further two people.

Nineteen-year-old Jonny Byrne from Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, was found dead yesterday morning after he filmed himself jumping into the Barrow River following his Neknomination attempt but was carried away in the powerful current following the bad weather this weekend.

In his discussions about the phenomenon, Rabbitte suggested that the Government’s Internet Content Governance Advisory Group will be looking into possibly asking social media sites like Facebook to take down pages featuring such activities.

Vulnerable to peer pressure

Speaking on the radio programme, Rabbitte appeared to lay a lot of the blame on the influence of social media in pressuring people to participate in dangerous acts. “One of the big dangers that we’re seeing associated with this is not just the impact on the individual or the group taking part but on younger children who may be on social media – vulnerable people who wouldn’t normally find themselves in this situation. 

“There’s a huge amount of peer pressure involved.  It can lead to cyberbullying and online shaming of people who do not take part and that’s certainly been a factor as to why it has escalated.”

The social media phenomenon originates from Australia and has become popular in Ireland with so many Irish emigrants currently living in the country nominating friends and family back home.

Ross Cummins was the first death to be associated with the online challenge in Ireland after he was found unconscious in a house in Dublin the morning after he took part in a ‘neknomination’.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic