TikTok sued after girls die during ‘blackout challenge’
The complaint states that TikTok knew that the deadly challenge was spreading on their app.
The families of two children are suing TikTok after their daughters passed away after allegedly doing a “blackout challenge”.
As The Guardian reports, eight-year-old Lalani Erika Renee Walton and nine-year-old Arriani Jaileen Arroyo passed away in 2021. In a lawsuit filed at the Los Angeles county superior court, their families claim that TikTok’s algorithm “intentionally and repeatedly” showed videos on their feeds of people participating in the dangerous challenge.
The girls’ families are being represented by the Social Media Victims Law Centre, who have said that the video platform needs to “be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls”.
The founding attorney of the centre, Matthew P Bergman said: “TikTok has invested billions of dollars to intentionally design products that push dangerous content that it knows is dangerous and can result in the deaths of its users.”
The complaint from the family states that the app “unquestionably knew that the deadly Blackout Challenge was spreading through their app and that their algorithm was specifically feeding the Blackout Challenge to children, including those who have died”.
The family of Lalani, who the complaint says, became “addicted” to watching TikTok, noticed that she had bruising on her neck in July 2021. They didn’t realise it at the time, but the bruising was the result of her participating in the “blackout challenge” for a number of weeks, after it popped up in her feed.
The lawsuit states that Lalani thought that she might become “famous” if she took part in the challenge.
“Lalani was eight years old at the time and did not appreciate or understand the dangerous nature of what TikTok was encouraging her to do,” the complaint reads.
The family of Arriani say that she was “obsessive” about posting to the app. Her parents discussed the dangerous challenge with her, and told her that another TikToker passed away after participating in it, but Arriani promised that she wouldn’t attempt it.
She later passed away after her brother found her not breathing at home. The young girl was taken to hospital where she was put on life support, and subsequently passed away.