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Facebook planking game claims its first victim

Death by planking - an Australian first

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A social media game that uses Facebook as its vector is being blamed for the death of a 20-year-old Queenslander over the weekend.

The silly, but mostly harmless, game of "planking" involves a person lying straight, arms by side face down, sans facial expression.

Plankers are encouraged to pose creative or daring locations and post the feat of Facebook or YouTube. Planking fan sites have erupted all over Facebook, the “official planking group” has 99,605 fans, and Planking Australia has 83,719 fans.

Last week in the lead up to the fatal incident, planking had even gripped mainstream media with a number of news and TV presenters mimicking the act on prime television.

On Saturday night, 20-year-old Acton Beale was positioning himself on a balcony railing on the seventh floor of an apartment block when he lost his balance and fell to his death.

Even before the weekend death, police were starting to overreact to the craze. Last week in Queensland, a man was charged with trespassing on police property after he "planked" across the back of a police car.

Speaking to media after the death of the young Beale, Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said the police had feared a fatality with the growing popularity of the fad.

"Police fear that as 'planking' gains popularity there may be more injuries and, potentially, further deaths," he said.

While the Facebook “planking” community expressed some concern over the death, many defended the right to plank.

An entirely predictable outcome of the police and media interest has been even more interest in the fad. Planking sites reported increased fan numbers over the weekend. ®

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