Social media may be an entertaining place with tons of images to look through and thousands of pieces to read, but it comes with its own set of drawbacks, some so serious that they could leave you dead. After the Blue Whale Challenge made headlines in 2017 claiming lives of several teens and young adult, the newest fad seems to be the Tide Pod Challenge.

While the name may sound pretty innocent, something for the entertainment of teens who are fixated on social media for hours each day, the game is, in fact, deadly and has alarmed many parents and social media users.

Tide detergent pods
Tide detergent pods, from Procter & Gamble, are seen at the Safeway storeReuters

What is Tide Pod Challenge?

The challenge involves teens, especially in the US, biting into Tide Pods, which are liquid laundry detergent pods and look like bright candies or lozenges. Some teens are even said to be cooking these pods in frying pans and then chewing them, reported the Seattle Times.

Teenagers have been uploading images and video of themselves taking up the challenge and daring their peers to do the same.

What happens if you eat these pods?

The detergent pods contain harmful chemicals such as ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and polymers, meant to clean clothes, which easily dissolve in the mouth. These chemicals make the consumer sick and induce vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, choking, breathing difficulties and stomach pain.

The chemicals may also corrode the oesophagus and lead to the failure of organs, reported the Sun. If consumed in a large amount, chemicals in these pods may even lead to death.

How this potentially fatal challenge started

In the year 2015, an American satirical website spoke about how these pods looked like candy. Later, in March 2017, US humour website College Humor uploaded a video on YouTube called "Don't Eat The Laundry Pods."

But the craze caught on only this year when several people tweeted about eating these pods as a social media challenge.

Company reacts

After the Tide Pod Challenge went viral online the detergent company reacted to teens consuming the pods and released a public service announcement speaking of how these pods were dangerous.

A spokesperson for Proctor & Gamble, which is the parent company of Tide told Time "We are deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry pacs, and have been working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies.

"Laundry pacs are made to clean clothes. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance, even if meant as a joke. Like all household cleaning products, they must be used properly and stored safely."

As many as 39 reported cases of teens eating these pods have come to light and now YouTube has said that it will take down the videos of teens taking up this challenge. The video-sharing platform, in a statement to Fast Company said that the challenge was not just potentially fatal but also violated YouTube's policies. 

"YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibit content that's intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm. We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies," YouTube said.