Parents Sue TikTok Blackout Challenge, Parents who claim their children died as a result of TikTok’s “blackout challenge” are suing the company, claiming the app’s algorithm and design were to blame.
Parents Sue TikTok Blackout Challenge
According to the New York Times, a lawsuit was filed earlier this week in Los Angeles Superior Court. While various forms of the challenge have existed for decades, the lawsuit cites the addictive nature of the app’s For You page, where TikTok trends and challenges are served to an ever-growing audience based on user engagement, as the reason for the lawsuit.
The parents of two girls who died in 2021, 8-year-old Lalani Erika Walton of Texas and 9-year-old Arriani Jaileen Arroyo of Wisconsin, filed the lawsuit. They both allegedly took part in the challenge, which requires participants to hold their breath or choke themselves until they pass out or are on the verge of passing out. The case also alleges that five other children died as a result of the challenge.
According to the lawsuit, TikTok was aware of this dangerous trend and continued to direct users to it despite prohibiting searches for blackout challenge content. A search now yields resources to “recognize harmful challenges,” and there are few blackout challenge videos on TikTok.
The Social Media Victims Law Center is representing the parents. TikTok, according to attorney Matthew P. Bergman, “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.”
Nyla Anderson, a 10-year-old from Pennsylvania, was discovered unconscious in December after attempting the challenge. In May, her mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
TikTok has rehashed an earlier statement in response to the new lawsuit, distancing itself as the origin of the challenge and claiming it “long predates our platform.” It cites a 2008 CDC report on “choking game” or “pass-out game” accidental deaths from 1995 to 2007. There have been reports of choking game deaths or injuries since 2007.
The death of a 10-year-old girl in Italy in January 2021 was the first reported death linked to the TikTok blackout challenge. In a high-profile case in the United Kingdom, a 12-year-old boy who allegedly attempted the challenge is now on life support, and his parents are fighting to keep him alive in court.
Previous dangerous (and hoax) challenges were available on the app. Teens were hospitalized in 2020 after taking too much Benadryl, and the milk crate challenge sent people to the ER last year.