- TikTok is being sued for wrongful death after two girls died trying to recreate a choking challenge.
- The lawsuit alleges the girls aged 8 and 9 were fed videos of the challenge by the app’s algorithm.
- The choking challenge has been linked to at least 5 other deaths.
TikTok is being sued after two young girls died while trying to recreate a viral trend on the app called the “blackout challenge.”
The lawsuits allege that Lalani Erika Walton, 8, and Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, 9, died after copying the trend in which participants try to choke themselves into unconsciousness, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The wrongful death lawsuits were filed on Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The suit alleges that the app’s algorithm recommended videos of the strangulation challenge to the young girls.
Walton, from Texas, was found “hanging from her bed with a rope around her neck” in her bedroom.
The police took Walton’s phone and tablet, and later told her stepmother that she had been watching blackout challenge videos “on repeat,” the suit says, according to the newspaper.
Arroyo, from Milwaukee, was found “hanging from the family dog’s leash” in her basement, according to the suit.
She was taken to hospital and put on a ventilator, but had lost all brain function and was eventually taken off life support, according to the lawsuit, the LA Times reported.
They are not the first children to die while allegedly trying to participate in the challenge. Nylah Anderson, 10, similarly died while trying to copy the choking challenge, leading to her mother filing a lawsuit against TikTok and its parent company ByteDance in May.
The challenge has been linked to at least four other deaths of children ranging from 10 to 14 in Australia, Italy, Colorado and Oklahoma.
“TikTok unquestionably knew that the deadly Blackout Challenge was spreading through their app and that their algorithm was specifically feeding the Blackout Challenge to children,” the Social Media Victims Law Center’s complaint claims, per the Los Angeles Times.
The complaint adds that the company “knew or should have known that failing to take immediate and significant action to extinguish the spread of the deadly Blackout Challenge would result in more injuries and deaths, especially among children.”
A TikTok spokesperson told The Washington Post in response to the lawsuit over Anderson’s death that the “disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long 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,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company has blocked the hashtag #BlackoutChallenge from its search engine.
In recent years several dangerous trends have gone viral on various social media platforms including TikTok, such as the milk crate challenge, which involved people climbing on unsecured milk creates, and the “Benadryl Challenge,” which involved children taking the medicine to try to hallucinate.
The notorious 2017 “Tide Pod” challenge involved young people eating laundry detergent capsules.