Time to face up to responsibilities

Social networking site Facebook has hit the headlines – it’s celebrating its 10th birthday, for which it won praise, and as an avenue for the NekNomination drinking game, for which it has attracted criticism.

Facebook can be a source of harmless fun. There are side-splitting videos, mostly involving animals, children or out-of-control adults.

It has united people who, for whatever reason, have drifted apart and lost contact.

There are many who get enjoyment from chatting online, sharing photos or playing games. I think one is called Candy Crunch which looks incredibly complicated and boring at the same time.

I also don’t really want to know what Jimmy had for his breakfast, that Willie’s fish supper tasted nothing like fish or Jean was going to have a 10-minute nap before watching the omnibus edition of Eastenders. But that’s all harmless fun and if it provides enjoyment for some, then that’s not a problem.

But where I do have a problem is when sites such as Facebook and Twitter cause offence, allow people to break the law (often unwittingly) and can lead to death.

By law, newspaper, radio and television are forbidden, quite rightly, from publishing certain details from certain types of crimes and court cases – the identity of rape victims and victims of crimes against children are prime examples.

Journalists are made aware of these restrictions very early in their training. There are many other pitfalls of which they have to be on their guard.

The general public, however, cannot be expected to be aware of these restrictions and this has led to legally-protected identities and other information being posted and made public. Our legal eagles and lawmakers are currently scratching their heads to come up with a solution. Their task is a difficult one – but an answer must be found.

The current craze – and it’s a crazy craze – of NekNomination is alleged to have been responsible for at least three deaths.

NekNomination is worldwide and it encourages people to drink alcohol rapidly and then perform some risk or dare. It’s videoed and posted online. People have jumped from bridges and into swollen rivers. People have died – others might.

Facebook appears to believe NekNomination is socially acceptable. As I write, only in the Republic of Ireland has the site been taken down. It all comes down to who is deemed responsible – Facebook as a body, or those who participate. The answer is both. It may seem harmless fun, but the consequences can be severe.

On a much lighter note, rugby doos are sadly becoming fewer in number – but I was at one on Saturday that will never fade or disappear. It’s run by Gala Star – a club that exists really just in name and as a vets outfit that allows a few ex-players to keep their legs active.

Saturday was their 12th charity lunch and over the years more than £23,000 has been raised. Long may the Star shine.