TikTok sued over two young girls’ death related to “Blackout Challenge”

The complaint took aim at the company’s algorithm for exposing minor users to the challenge

Updated - July 08, 2022 10:10 pm IST

Published - July 08, 2022 11:50 am IST

TikTok sued over two young girls’ death related to “Blackout Challenge”

TikTok sued over two young girls’ death related to “Blackout Challenge” | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The video-based social media platform TikTok is being sued in the U.S. for allegedly serving up the harmful “Blackout Challenge” to children, who died while trying out the viral dare.

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Two girls, aged eight and nine, died while attempting the challenge in 2021 after seeing videos of it on TikTok. Their parents are now being represented by the Social Media Victims Law Centre (SMVLC).

The suit was filed in Los Angeles, California on June 28. The complaint for wrongful death and survival action targeted TikTok Inc. and its parent company, the China-based ByteDance Inc., alleging that the social media platform’s algorithm exposed the two girls to the “viral and deadly TikTok Blackout Challenge.”

The complaint claimed that TikTok had failed to fix its algorithm or add safeguards, despite at least five other children dying after attempting the Blackout Challenge. It also detailed how the two young girls became “addicted” to watching and posting TikTok videos after receiving smartphones.

“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, including those who have died,” stated the complaint.

The complaint also demanded that TikTok modify its “unreasonably dangerous algorithms” and show warnings to young users and their parents, to educate them about the risk of addiction and the app’s “danger” to minors.

“In other words, TikTok has specifically curated and determined that these Blackout Challenge videos – videos featuring users who purposefully strangulate themselves until losing consciousness – are appropriate and fitting for small children,” the complaint stated.

A TikTok spokesperson has previously said that the Blackout Challenge came before TikTok and that it was never a trend on the social media platform.

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