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What Is The TikTok Blackout Challenge?

What Is The TikTok Blackout Challenge?

All you need to know about the TikTok blackout challenge

Challenges on TikTok are usually a fun and wholesome affair, with videos ranging between viral dances, such as the Renegade dance, to meal trends, like Emily Mariko’s salmon rice. 

However, some challenges can be dangerous and can cause serious harm to a large audience given the amount of influence TikTok videos have and the speed in which they circulate.

While there are community guidelines and warnings put in place to protect users, some are able to escape these moderators and make their way to many users’ 'for you' pages.

This was the case with the blackout challenge that has allegedly caused the death of seven children under the age of 15, since January 2021.

Now more parents are taking action and have since filed lawsuits against the app.

What Is The TikTok Blackout Challenge?

The blackout challenge involves users attempting to strangle themselves with household items such as ropes, belts, strings etc. until they pass out and the results would then be posted onto TikTok. 

What makes this worrying is that these take place in children’s bedrooms where parents are not able to intervene in time or monitor what is being shown on their 'for you' page.

This issue is not limited to the US, where most deaths took place, but also in Europe and Australia which shows that users around the world have seen this ‘challenge’ on their feed.

One of the latest lawsuits from the parents of Lalani Walton and Arriani Arroyo statws that several other children have also died from the challenge and that TikTok “specifically curate[s] and determine[s] ... these Blackout Challenge videos – videos featuring users who purposefully strangulate themselves until losing consciousness – are appropriate and fitting for small children”.

How Has TikTok Responded?

TikTok’s spokesperson Mahsau Cullinane repeated their statement to a previous lawsuit from a Pennsylvanian mother who sued the app for encouraging the challenge and essentially taught a child how to choke themselves. 

The statement mentions that the blackout challenge was never a trend on the platform and that it originated from other sources but they are taking steps to prevent users from finding related content.

So if a user searches for “blackout challenge”, a message would appear (“Some online challenges can be dangerous, disturbing, or even fabricated.”) and it would then redirect users to resources that would inform them on assessing challenges and materials they see.

Nonetheless, it does not take away the problem of the challenge appearing on the for you page, which was the case with Arroyo whose lawsuit stated that it was “specifically curated” by the algorithm to appear on the child’s page.

This now brings about the question of a parent’s role in monitoring their child’s online safety and what platforms must do to protect their users.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: TikTok