Planking: The Latest Facebook Craze That Just Might Kill You

More

PlankingAustralia-Post.jpg

A 20-year-old Australian man fell to his death from a seven-story balcony this weekend while getting his picture taken. The fall prompted the Australian prime minister to call for an end to "planking," an odd Internet craze that has organized around Facebook in which individuals pose for their picture by laying flat, with arms at their sides and feet outstretched, on various objects. The idea is to resemble a plank.

The Facebook page for "Planking" has nearly 140,000 followers at the time of this writing, though this weekend, according to the Guardian, it only had 116,000. But a little digging suggests that the practice has more participants than that: Some individual countries have their own pages, like "Planking Norway," "Planking Ireland" and "Planking Australia," which shows people performing the act on top of garbage cans, cabinets, moving escalator handrails and even on window ledges. Other planks have been performed on top of train tracks, fire hydrants, signs, clotheslines and motorcycles.

The "potential disaster increases as more and more risks are taken to get the ultimate photo," said a statement from the Queensland police, who are aware that plankers, as they're known, continue to try and one-up each other. "If you want to take a photo of yourself planking on a park bench two foot off the ground, there are no risks with that. But when you start doing it seven stories up or lying across a railway line, that's what we have a concern about. Is it worth life in a wheelchair to take a funny photo to impress somebody you don't know on the Internet?"

The authorities, apparently, were aware of the craze even before this weekend's accident. "It is what we've been fearing," deputy commissioner Ross Barnett told reporters, according to MSNBC. The penalty, if caught performing the act, range from steep fines to jail time in the most extreme cases. "Clearly, conduct that threatens public safety will not and should not be tolerated," a Victoria state police spokeswoman said.

Image: Planking Australia.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In