TikTok is facing multiple lawsuits from parents who say their children died of strangulation while attempting a “blackout challenge” when the app tried to show them videos of other people. A lawsuit filed against the company in June alleges that at least seven specific children died last year while attempting the challenge, which the complaint says “took users to use belts, purse strings, or similar until passing.” It encourages you to dodge yourself with anything.” All the children who died were reportedly under the age of 15.
We’re not going to go into the disturbing details of the cases, but you can read the full complaint below for more background on some of the kids, and how they met the challenge.
The most recent lawsuit was filed by the parents of eight-year-old Lalani Walton and nine-year-old Ariani Arroyo. However, it cites several other children who died even after attempting the challenge that TikTok was aware of the problem. Apart from Walton and Arroyo, the cases it lists are:
- A 10-year-old child in Italy who reportedly died in January 2021
- A 12-year-old in Colorado who reportedly died in March 2021
- A 14-year-old man in Australia who reportedly died in June 2021
- A 12-year-old in Oklahoma who reportedly died in July 2021
- A 10-year-old child in Pennsylvania who reportedly died in December 2021
Nyla Anderson, a 10-year-old mother from Pennsylvania, has also sued the company, alleging that the app posed “excessive and unacceptably dangerous challenges.” In response to that suit, Tiktok told Washington Post that it blocked users Searching As for the Blackout challenge – instead, users see a warning screen of this, saying that “some online challenges may be dangerous, disturbing, or concocted,” and a page in the app about assessing challenges and warnings are joined by.
However, Smith and Arroyo’s new suit allege that their children were not looking for challenges when they saw the video. Instead, it says, TikTok placed it in front of them on the app’s main screen, the For You page. The suit accuses the company of “particularly curating and determining that these Blackout Challenge videos – videos featuring users who deliberately strangle themselves until they lose consciousness – are appropriate and appropriate for young children”.
On the record, TikTok spokesperson Mahsou Cullinan would only give the company’s back statement:
This troubling ‘challenge’, which people learn about from sources other than TikTok, predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend. We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and will promptly remove related content if found. Our deepest condolences are with the family for his sad loss.
Challenges are a core part of the TikTok experience – to the point where competitors have begun to try to attract TikTok users by integrating them into their platform. Some challenges only involve doing dance moves, while others are less gentle. A notorious challenge that spread among users of the platform encouraged students to steal or destroy school property. The platform is so well-known for its challenges that the company sometimes engages with ones that spill over to other sites or apps, or even those that seem to be.
Smith and Arroyo’s lawsuit argues that because TikTok advertises and pushes certain challenges, it needs to use its app to ensure that dangerous and deadly videos and challenges were not posted. and have a duty to monitor Videos and Challenges shared, posted and/or broadcast on the Platform. shared, circulated, recommended, and/or encouraged.”
The company has previously faced lawsuits and fines over children’s access to its platform. In 2019, it agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle fees from the Federal Trade Commission that allowed users under the age of 13 to sign up without a parent’s permission. About a year later, it introduced Family Pairing Mode, which lets parents link their accounts to their kids and control how much content they watch and how much time they can spend on the app.