TikTok Sued Over Deaths of Girls 8, 9

Platform displayed 'blackout challenge' videos on the girls' 'for you' page, lawsuit says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2022 7:30 PM CDT
TikTok Sued Over Deaths of Girls 8, 9
Pallbearers carry a casket during the funeral for a 10-year-old girl in Palermo, Italy, who died while participating in a "blackout challenge" promoted on TikTok in January 2021.   (Alberto Lobianco/LaPresse via AP)

TikTok has been sued again over the deaths of children who were participating in a challenge promoted by the social media platform. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County, says Heriberto Arroyo of Milwaukee found his 9-year-old daughter Arriani Jaileen Arroyo hanging in their home in February 2021. The same month, Lalani Erika Renee Walton, 8, of Temple, Texas, was found hanging at home. The suit says the "blackout challenge," which also goes by other names, encourages social media users to hold their breath until they pass out, USA Today reports.

TikTok's algorithm regularly made blackout challenge videos appear on the girls' "for you" pages, the Social Media Victims Law Center, which is representing the parents, said in the filing. The company specifically decided the blackout challenge videos "are appropriate and fitting for small children," the suit argues, per NBC News. A company spokesman did not comment on the new suit but referenced a statement issued after another suit was filed in December in the death of a 10-year-old girl. That statement said TikTok would immediately remove content related to the challenge if it was aware of it. "This disturbing ‘challenge,' which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend," the statement says.

Authorities told Lalani's family that she had been watching videos of the challenge before trying it. The girl "did not commit suicide," they said, according to the lawsuit. Arriani had told her mother about a young girl in Italy who was killed attempting the challenge. Her mother informed her she was not allowed to try the challenge herself, the filing says. About a month later, Arriani was found hanging from a leash. (Read more TikTok stories.)

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