Families Are Suing TikTok After Two Girls Die Attempting 'Blackout Challenge'
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Featured Image Credit: Social Media Victims Law Center
The families of two young girls who died while attempting a TikTok challenge are suing the social media platform.
Earlier this month, the Social Media Victims Law Center – a legal resource for relatives of children harmed by social media –announced that it had filed two wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the devastated parents.
Both 8-year-old Lalani Erika from Texas and 9-year-old Arriani Jaileen Arroyo from Wisconsin took part in the deadly 'Blackout Challenge', leading to both the girls tragically passing away.
The suits, filed in the Superior Court of California, allege that TikTok's algorithm 'intentionally and repeatedly' pushed the 'Blackout Challenge' onto the victims' For You pages, motivating them to participate.
It goes on to argue that the design of the app results in an 'addictive product' that isn't safe for users, failing to alert minors and their parents that it is 'addictive and pushes harmful content' into their recommended feeds.
In a statement, Matthew P Bergman, founding attorney of SMVLC, said: "TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls.
"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."
According to SMVLC, Erika was gifted her first cellphone on her eight birthday, and soon after downloaded TikTok which she used to share videos of herself singing and dancing.
Arroyo used the app for the same purposes, having received a phone when she was seven years old.
Erika passed away after taking part in the challenge on July 15, 2021, while Arroyo died from the same causes on February 26, 2021.
Sadly this isn't the only case of its kind, with numerous children dying in recent years after partaking in dangerous social media trends and stunts.
Last year, two 12-year-old boys from Oklahoma and Colorado died after trying the 'Blackout Challenge' in separate incidents.
Medical professionals continue to warn families to educate their children on the issue and warn them about the dangers of these challenges.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner back when the trend started circulating on Snapchat, Dr Nick Flynn said: "What is actually going on in the brain is a lack of oxygen similar to when someone is drowning, choking, or having a cardiac arrest.
"If you have low oxygen to the brain for over three minutes you can get brain damage and if you have low oxygen to the brain for over five minutes it can result in death."
UNILAD has contacted TikTok for a comment.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677