The TikTok application is once again in the eye of the storm in the United States. But it’s not because of Brendan Carr, an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) commissioner, who asked Apple and Google to remove the short video app from their stores.
Nor is it a response from Bytedance, the owner of this Chinese application, to the US senators, explaining how it manages its users’ data and promising that they do not leave the country , thus responding to fears that it is a Chinese government vehicle to spy on US citizens.
|Tiktok Sued Again For The Death Of 2 Girls Because of A Viral Challenge
The news that makes TikTok headlines is the death of 8-year-old Lalani Walton and 9-year-old Arriani Arroyo . Both girls died in 2021 by strangulation. And the parents of the girls sued Tiktok in Los Angeles this Friday for considering that the death of the girls is related to a viral challenge that year, called " blackout challenge ", which consists of self-asphyxiating until losing consciousness.
This is not the first time this has happened: last May, the parents of Nylah Anderson, who died at the age of 10 in 2021 in similar circumstances, sued ByteDance, the TikTok company, for allowing the dissemination of videos that invited them to fulfill the challenge.
In all three cases, the parents of the girls consider that the girls were trying to fulfill the challenge with the intention of becoming “famous” by recording themselves fainting, and they assure that at some point in the time in which they used the application, the suggestion algorithm of videos showed them this challenge. One of the girls would have watched more than twenty hours of these videos - according to the lawsuit - and then hanged herself trying to meet the challenge.
TikTok, for its part, responded in May - when it received the Anderson family’s lawsuit - that this challenge never went viral on its platform, and that it is prior to TikTok; some reports cited by CNet show a similar alert in 2008.
Dangerous challenges are banned on TikTok, and the company says it removes posts that invite you to do such a thing; in fact, a current search for “blackout challenge” leads to a TikTok page explaining why blackout challenges shouldn’t be accepted, though it’s not clear that this page already existed in 2021, when the girls died.
The online challenges that endanger the health of those who try to do them are not exclusive to TikTok: the same problems occurred with YouTube; one of the most remembered was the Tide Pod Challenge , which in 2018 urged swallowing a washing machine detergent capsule; in three months there were 186 known poisonings in the United States.