Families sue TikTok after young girls die from ‘Blackout Challenge’

LOS ANGELES — The parents of young girls in Texas and Wisconsin have filed a lawsuit against TikTok after their children died while taking part in a social media challenge.

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The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the Social Media Victims Law Center, alleges that TikTok’s algorithm made videos promoting the “Blackout Challenge” appear for both Lalani Walton, 8, and Arriani Arroyo, 9, KCEN reported.

Lalani Walton, 8, died on July 15, 2021, after attempting the blackout challenge at her Temple, Texas home. Her stepmother found her body after waking up from a nap, WFAA reported.

Arroyo’s father, Heriberto Arroyo, found his young daughter hanging inside their Milwaukee home in February 2021, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Arroyo began using TikTok after getting a phone at age 7, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that TikTok’s algorithm “intentionally and repeatedly” showed videos about the “Blackout Challenge” to the children, WFAA reported. The “Blackout Challenge” encourages users to choke themselves with items until they lose consciousness.

“TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls,” Matthew Bergman, an attorney for the Social Media Victims Law Center, said in a news release. “TikTok has invested billions of dollars to intentionally design products that push dangerous content that it knows are dangerous and can result in the deaths of its users.”

TikTok told NBC News in May in response to a similar lawsuit filed in federal court in Pennsylvania, 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.”

TikTok has introduced a safety center, that features a guide for adults to set up and manage safety and privacy tools for their children.