France worried over Facebook binge drinking parties | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 15.05.2010
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France worried over Facebook binge drinking parties

There's a growing trend in France of parties organized on Facebook turning into mass drinking binges of thousands of people. The death of a Nantes man has prompted concern in the government over 'Facebook aperitifs.'

A Facebook logo with cocktail glasses

Facebook makes it easy for users to spread news about an upcoming party

A recent Facebook phenomenon in France is generating concern among police and politicians. The online social networking platform is being used to organize large public gatherings that often turn into mass binge drinking parties.

A young girl lying on a bench surrounded by beer bottles

Many people - especially youths - land in the hospital after a Facebook aperitif

The most recent of these 'Facebook aperitifs' occurred in the western city of Nantes and was attended by an estimated 10,000 people. Dozens of people were brought to the hospital because of alcohol poisoning, and several more were arrested because of drug trafficking or vandalism, or public intoxication.

The latest party in Nantes even cost one 21-year-old man his life. On the way home from the party, the man stumbled over a bridge and plunged five meters to the ground below. He later died in the hospital from his injuries. An analysis of his blood revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.24 percent, almost five times the legal limit.

Nantes was also the site of the first of the Facebook aperitifs in November that have since spread to other parts of France. A party planned in Paris under the Eiffel Tower is expected to draw 50,000 people.

Aperitif headache

With such a large crowd expected in Paris, and with the popularity of the gatherings gaining strength all over France, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux has planned a meeting next week of police representatives and French mayors to discuss ways of controlling the Facebook aperitifs.

Brice Hortefeux

Hortefeux was to find a solution to the problematic Facebook aperitifs

Hortefeux wants to come up with "precise measures to enable [authorities] to react to the spontaneous gatherings" and to protect the young participants from the risks.

Jean-Marc Ayrault, the mayor of Nantes, has called on the government to step in.

"We cannot let something like this just pass," he said in an interview with France Info radio. "This is a national problem, and it must be dealt with on that level."

Despite the controversy, the French government is against a total ban on the Facebook aperitifs, preferring instead to come up with better ways to regulate them.

mz/AFP/dpa/Reuters
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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