TikTok is facing a slew of lawsuits from parents who claim their children died of strangulation while attempting the “blackout challenge,” after the app showed them videos of others doing it.
The most recent lawsuit against the company was filed by the parents of eight-year-old Lalani Walton and nine-year-old Arriani Arroyo. The lawsuit, however, cites the deaths of several other children as well—who attempted the challenge—as proof that TikTok was aware of the problem.
The names on the list include a 10-year-old in Italy who died in January 2021; a 12-year-old in Colorado in the US who died in March 2021; a 14-year-old in Australia who died in June 2021; a 12-year-old in Oklahoma who died in July 2021; and another 10-year-old in Pennsylvania who reportedly died in December 2021, as per the reports.
The “blackout challenge” on TikTok “encourages users to choke themselves with belts, or anything similar until passing out”
According to a lawsuit filed against the firm in June, the challenge “encourages users to choke themselves with belts, purse strings, or anything similar until passing out.” The lawsuit also notes that at least seven particular youngsters died while attempting the challenge last year. All of the youngsters who reportedly died while attempting the deadly challenge were under the age of 15.
Nylah Anderson, the 10-year-mother old’s from Pennsylvania, is suing the firm as well, claiming that the app “pushed exceedingly and unacceptably dangerous challenges.” In response to that lawsuit, TikTok informed The Washington Post that it had disabled users from looking up the blackout challenge. Instead, users are directed to one of the app’s warning screens, which states that “some online challenges can be dangerous, disturbing, or even fabricated,” and links them to a page about evaluating challenges and warnings.
However, Smith and Arroyo’s newer complaint claims that their children were not looking for challenges when they saw the videos. Instead, it claims that TikTok placed it directly in front of users on the For You page of the app’s main screen. According to the lawsuit, the business “specifically curated and determined that these Blackout Challenge videos – videos featuring users who purposefully strangulate themselves until losing consciousness – are appropriate and fitting for small children”.
TikTok’s say on this deadly “blackout challenge”
According to a TikTok spokesperson, this distressing “challenge,” which individuals appear to hear about from media other than TikTok, predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend.
“We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss,” the company spokesperson said.