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TikTok Facing Lawsuit Over Death of Two Young Girls While Performing ‘Blackout Challenge’

TikTok is being sued for the death of two young girls who died as a result of recreating the viral “Blackout Challenge”. The lawsuit alleges that the two girls aged 8 and 9 were fed videos of the challenge by the app’s algorithm. Read on to learn more about this lawsuit filed by the Social Media Victims Law Centre.

A “Wrongful Death” Lawsuit…

TikTok is facing a lethal “wrongful death” lawsuit for the death of two young girls, Lalani Erika Walton, 8, and Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, 9, who died after copying the viral “Blackout Challenge” in which participants try to choke themselves into unconsciousness. The wrongful death lawsuits were filed on Friday (July 1) in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Eight-year-old Walton and nine-year-old Arriani wanted to become “TikTok famous.” Instead, they both wound up dead. The incidents took place at two different places and have been linked to the viral “Blackout Challenge” on Twitter. It is alleged that the TikTok app fed both Lalani and Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, 9, videos associated with a viral trend and both of the young girls died after trying to join in.

Walton, who was from Texas, was found “hanging from her bed with a rope around her neck” in her bedroom. When the police took Walton’s phone and tablet, it came out that the young girl was watching blackout challenge videos “on repeat” and the same has been confirmed by her stepmother.

On the other hand, Arroyo, from Milwaukee, was found “hanging from the family dog’s leash” in her basement, according to the suit. She was taken to the hospital and put on a ventilator but sadly, lost all brain function. As a result, she was pronounced dead and eventually taken off life support.

The lawsuit filed jointly by the Social Media Victims Law Centre, also alleges that “TikTok has invested billions of dollars to intentionally design and develop its product to encourage, enable, and push content to teens and children that defendant knows to be problematic and highly detrimental to its minor users’ mental health.”

TikTok has not yet responded to comments regarding the lawsuit, but in the past denied responsibility for the issue, saying “choking game” injuries from young people long predate the Blackout Challenge. The Social Media Victims Law Centre also stated that:

“It’s an indication that TikTok — the wildly popular, algorithmically curated video app that has its U.S. headquarters in Culver City — is a defective product.” The law firm, which is a self-described “legal resource for parents of children harmed by social media, added that “TikTok pushed Lalani and Arriani videos of the dangerous trend, is engineered to be addictive and didn’t offer the girls or their parents’ adequate safety features, all in the name of maximizing ad revenue.”

The Lawsuit further alleged that “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 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.”

Previous Deadly Instances…

This is not the first time that young children have fallen victims to the “Blackout Challenge”. Previously, Nylah Anderson, 10, accidentally hanged herself in her family’s home while trying to mimic the trend, alleges a lawsuit her mother recently filed against TikTok in Pennsylvania.

Last year, Joshua Haileyesus, 12, was discovered unconscious by his twin brother in Colorado after attempting TikTok’s “Blackout Challenge”. In this challenge, teens hold their breath until passing out on video. Joshua was pronounced brain dead and died after several days on life support.

Not only this, but several other children, ranging in age from 10 to 14 have died under similar circumstances while attempting the blackout challenge. Well, the horror is not limited to this challenge. TikTok boasts of other lethal challenges like the “OrbeezChallenge”, the “Benadryl challenge” and the “skull breaker challenge, which have claimed many innocent lives.

The first TikTok tragedy happened with Chloe Phillips, a 15-year-old from Oklahoma who died of a heart attack in August 2020 after taking up the “Benadryl Challenge”, which required individuals to film themselves hallucinating from medication.

If you recall, another lethal challenge called the “Angel of Death” challenge surfaced on TikTok in June. This dangerous challenge reportedly claimed the lives of two teenagers after they jumped in front of trucks. The challenge had become extremely famous in Indonesia and is known as the “malaikat maut” (which loosely translates to “angel of death“).

The Angel of Death challenge had become extremely famous in Indonesia as several people continue to carry out the stunt. The challenge requires people to jump in front of a moving vehicle and it is supposed to stop before striking the person. On March 26, 2021, an Instagram user @kabartangsel uploaded a video of a youth who suddenly stopped in front of a moving dump truck on purpose.

He was supposedly taking up the “Angel of Death” challenge. Unfortunately, he got crushed by the passing truck because it didn’t brake in time. The video received more than 11,000 views in one year.

The Bottom Line…

While such challenges are created by individuals and spread like fire, your safety is in your own hands. It’s high time that parents take control of what their children watch and how much time they spend on social media.

In case you come across content that glorifies the “The Blackout Challenge” or any other dangerous challenge, please report it immediately. To report it on TikTok, you can follow these steps:

  • Click on the white arrow to the right of the video
  • Press the icon that reads “report” with a flag symbol
  • Choose “suicide, self-harm and dangerous acts” and report the content.

Despite TikTok’s claim that its rules prohibit dangerous challenges, and the company launched a page on its website that encourages people to stop and think if an online challenge is harmful before attempting it, young children continue to die. Are parents keeping enough checks on what children watch? What do you suggest as a solution?

Mallika
I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.
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