A Pennsylvania mother is suing TikTok for wrongful death after her 10-year-old daughter died mimicking the “Blackout Challenge” she watched on the social media platform.
According to a report in The Washington Post, Nylah Anderson hanged herself as her mother, Tawainna Anderson, was downstairs and unaware that her daughter was in mortal danger. The lawsuit states that Nylah was unable to free herself and endured “hellacious suffering” until she lost consciousness.
Her mother found her hanging in the closet “near the point of death” and performed CPR until paramedics rushed her to a hospital. The girl died five days later. In a press conference, Tawainna Anderson called for these dangerous challenges to come to an end so other families don’t experience similar heartbreak.
Lethal Challenge Tempted Kids
The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Anderson accuses TikTok and its parent company ByteDance of unleashing a “predatory and manipulative app” that “pushed exceedingly and unacceptably dangerous challenges” in front of Nylah and other children who died as a result. Bloomberg News reported that a forensic analysis of Nylah’s phone revealed she used the TikTok app to watch a Blackout Challenge video when she choked herself.
While TikTok representatives are trying to protect themselves by saying that these types of challenges predate the app, Anderson’s lawsuit alleges that TikTok’s algorithm determined that the lethal challenge was likely to be of interest to a 10-year-old girl like her daughter.
Days before her death, the app had pushed a similar challenge to Nylah’s “For You” page in which people put plastic wrap around their necks and held their breath until the lack of oxygen gave them a feeling of euphoria, the lawsuit states. Other children have died doing the Blackout Challenge after seeing it on TikTok including a 14-year-old boy in Australia in 2020, a 10-year-old girl in Italy in January 2021, and two boys, both 12, in the United States (in Colorado and Oklahoma) in July 2021.
Responsibility of Social Media Platforms
There has been a lot said and written about the responsibility of social media platforms when it comes to spreading disinformation. While that might be dangerous to a healthy democracy, promoting and pushing such deadly challenges and viral videos to children is absolutely irresponsible and amounts to negligence.
Our wrongful death attorneys hope that such legal actions help put an end to this type of content being posted and promoted on social media. We offer our deepest condolences to all these families that have lost their children in such a horrific manner. We hope that justice is served and that there are laws enacted to hold these corporations accountable.