A new social media craze which encourages people to 'play dead' is being condemned for glorifying violence.

#Deadpose requires participants to freeze, as with the 'mannequin challenge', before filming and photographing themselves appearing dead. The stunts have become increasing graphic, often incorporating weapons and allusions to blood and gore.

Student Karabo Mnisi, 18, who claims to have started the craze in South Africa, said the extreme tone satisfied him.

"We are now only in phase two of these posts," Mnisi told Mail Online. "The first phase showed no cuts, wounds or bloody, but now phase two includes people who are covered in blood, who have been violently killed."

Mnisi said he hoped to become the most famous Facebook celebrity in the country, and would post increasingly graphic images sent by participants until that happens. "The next phase is going to be even more graphic if I don't reach my aim," he said.

However many of the depictions appear to show people who have been brutally murdered, often with blood all over them. In a country where there are 50 murders every day, and where the Law Reform Commission estimates there are 1.7 million rapes a year, many see the 'dead pose' as no joke.

"#StopThisHashtag Stop #DeadPose. Tell young ones there is nothing cool about this," wrote Twitter user Tendai Joe.

One 'dead pose' stunt that has caused particular ire features a two-year-old sobbing with terror after finding his aunt, Bontle Goitsimang, lying motionless in a 'dead pose'.

Despite Goitsimang insisting the child had been warned in advance, the online backlash has proved intense.

"The child should be taken away from that fool. Disgraceful," wrote GwenJac. Another described the incident as "cruel and sick".

Mnisi continued to defend the craze in light of the post, claiming it is all "a joke".

"I was expecting this was going to trend, but never thought it was going to be this big. I don't have a problem with it, none of it. It's a joke. Like the icebucket challenge was big. I get lots of pictures, but I only share the stuff that is impressive," he said.