TikTok sued parents over the deaths of two girls who died after the 'blackout challenge'

Two young girls died in TikTok's "blackout challenge".

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
08 July 2022 Friday 08:21
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TikTok sued parents over the deaths of two girls who died after the 'blackout challenge'

Two young girls died in TikTok's "blackout challenge". Their parents sued the social media platform -- this is the second lawsuit filed against the app.

Lalani Erika Renee Walton (8 years old) and Arriani Jaileen Arroyo (9 years old), both died last year. They were accused of having attempted the blackout challenge. This encouraged users to choke until they pass out. According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, June 30, they died.

According to their website, the Social Media Victims Law Center represents the parents of the children. This law firm "works to hold social-media companies legally responsible for the harm they cause to vulnerable users." The request for comment was not answered by the law firm.

According to the complaint, the platform's algorithm failed users and their parents and intentionally promoted an "unacceptably hazardous video" on the girls "For You" pages. These pages show users videos that they might like based upon their interactions with the app.

The lawsuit stated that TikTok had specifically curated and determined these Blackout Challenge videos, which show users deliberately strangling themselves to death until they lose consciousness, are suitable and appropriate for children.

A TikTok spokesperson declined comment to discuss the lawsuit. NBC News refers to the previous statement it made in December to NBC News. The lawsuit was filed against ByteDance and the social media company TikTok by the mother of a 10-year old girl who is alleged to have been killed after taking part in the viral challenge.

TikTok released a statement saying that this troubling "challenge", which people seem to have learned about via other sources than TikTok, predates our platform. It has never been a TikTok fad. We will immediately remove any related content found and we remain vigilant in our commitment for user safety. We are deeply sorry for the family's tragic loss and offer our condolences.

Parents and doctors are becoming increasingly worried about the dangers of internet challenges.

The milk crate challenge as well as the Benadryl challenge appear to have been developed from TikTok. These were both mentioned in the lawsuit for their potential promotion of dangerous behavior. The platform has disabled the hashtags "BenadrylChallenge", and "BenadrylChallenge" to stop copycats. There is not much evidence that the latter was a widespread challenge.

According to the complaint Lalani bought her first phone last year when she was 8 years old. She quickly became addicted to TikTok. Lalani, her stepmother, and Lalani returned from a roadtrip on July 15, 2021. Lalani was instructed to clean her room while her stepmother rested.

Lalani was found in her bedroom by her stepmother with a rope around the neck and a suit.

Lalani's stepmother was told by authorities that Lalani had not committed suicide. She had been watching TikTok videos and had attempted it herself.

According to the suit, Arriani was seven years old when she received her first smartphone. She also became obsessed with watching videos on the social networking app. Arriani, then 7, told her mother in January 2021 about the death of a young girl from Italy while trying to complete the social media challenge. Her mother said she wasn't allowed to do that.

Arriani was found by her family hanging from a leash at home on February 26, a month later.

Lalani was described in the lawsuit as "extremely sweet" and "outgoing," and she "loved dressing up like a princess and playing around with makeup." She was "never afraid to shine in the spotlight" and as she grew up, "she wanted a career as a rapper like Cardi B."

Arriani was described as an active child who enjoyed playing basketball, kickball and riding her bike.

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