CNN (LONDON) – It all begins with a nomination, followed by a cocktail of liquor. The trend sweeping through Britain is called Neknominate. But, what started as a game has already begun to claim lives. So far, four men under the age of 30 have died playing the viral game.
"This is a lethal game,” says Dr. Sarah Jarvis, Medical Advisor with 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 premise of the game is simple. People film themselves neking - or downing a large drink. We're talking about eyebrow-raising concoctions of alcohol, sometimes mixed with other things.
They then post the video on social media.
After that, they nominate a friend to outdo them. If the nominee doesn't respond they are ridiculed on their Facebook wall or on Twitter.
Each nomination becomes more and more daring and outlandish.
The trend is thought to have started in Australia. It started as exhibitionism with a woman stripping in a supermarket and downing a drink.
But the bravado has jumped into extreme cocktails; one mixes spirits with a dead mouse among other things.
Not surprisingly, the trend has politicians calling for schools to play a bigger role.
Brian Viner, whose own son has played the game says responsibility must come from Facebook, which still today displays adverts next to videos of people taking part in the challenges.
Viner says his son was nominated and pressured to play the game, but drank water instead of vodka so as not to harm himself.
"I was crossed with him, but more crossed with the social media involved and the way this game has just spread,” says Viner. “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."
In a statement to CNN, Facebook says:
"We do 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."
But to stop this once and for all, 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,” says Jarvis. “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."
Whether it’s a fleeting craze or a long term trend, one thing is clear -- this is a game where no one wins.