A mother is suing TikTok after her 10-year-old daughter choked herself to death while trying a dangerous challenge that went viral on the social platform. The challenge, called the “Blackout Challenge”, encourages users to choke themselves until passing out due to lack of oxygen.
In December, Tawainna Anderson found her daughter Nylah unconscious and hanging in her bedroom closet by her neck from a purse strap. Nylah was rushed to the hospital where she was in the intensive care unit for several days before she died.
The lawsuit states that, “The TikTok Defendants’ algorithm determined that the deadly Blackout Challenge was well-tailored and likely to be of interest to 10-year-old Nylah Anderson, and she died as a result.”
“The TikTok Defendants’ app and algorithm are intentionally designed to maximize user engagement and dependence and powerfully encourage children to engage in a repetitive and dopamine-driven feedback loop by watching, sharing, and attempting viral challenges and other videos. TikTok is programming children for the sake of corporate profits and promoting addiction,” the 46-page complaint alleges.
The suit also lists other fatalities that resulted from the challenge, which include a 10-year-old girl in Italy on Jan. 21, 2021; 12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus on March 22, 2021; a 14-year-old boy in Australia on June 14, 2021; and a 12-year-old boy from Oklahoma in July 2021. All of these children allegedly learned about the challenge on their “For You Page.”
TikTok released the following statement in December when Nylah’s death first came to light.
“This disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend. We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss.”
Anderson says her daughter died due to TikTok’s “corrosive marketing practices.
“I want to hold this company accountable,” Anderson said, CBS News reports. “It is time that these dangerous challenges come to an end, that other families don’t experience the heartbreak we live every day.”