Lawsuit Filed After Alleged TikTok Challenge Results in Death of Temple, Texas Child
Two children have allegedly passed away after taking part in a movement on TikTok known as the "Blackout Challenge." One of the children, Lalani Erika Walton, is an 8-year-old girl from Temple, Texas.
TikTok Blackout Challenge Claimed Temple, Texas Girl's Life
According to KXXV, the Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC) describes the challenge as something that "encourages self-strangulation using belts, purse strings, or other similar items until a person passes out." The suit also goes into detail alleging the algorithm of the app having resulted in the challenge showing up on the two young girls' apps frequently.
The SMVLC described what led to the passing of Lalani in the suit. According to them, Lalani was gifted her first cell phone on her 8th birthday, then downloaded TikTok and started posting videos of herself singing and dancing. However, the SMVLC says TikTok's algorithm soon started showing her videos of the blackout challenge.
The suit also says that on July 15th, 2021, Lalani and her stepmother had just returned from a road trip. The stepmother, after telling Lalani to clean her room, proceeded to take a nap after the trip.
When the stepmother returned to check on Lalani, she discovered the young child had passed away.
Suit Alleges TikTok Pushes Deadly Content
The SMVLC's founding attorney, Matthew P. Bergman, issued a statement demanding that TikTok be held accountable for "pushing deadly content" on the children who died as a result of this disturbing trend. He alleges TikTok intentionally designed their product to push dangerous content.
KWTX shared a copy of the pending suit, which claims that TikTok is addictive and fails to warn parents and young users about potentially harmful content.
"In these digital public spaces, which are privately owned and tend to be run for profit,
there can be tension between what’s best for the technology company and what’s best
for the individual user or for society," the suit reads. "Business models are often built around maximizing user engagement as opposed to safeguarding users’ health and ensuring that users engage with one another in safe and healthy way."
Be Careful Letting Kids Use TikTok (Or Any Other App)
Women's Health recently published an article that opens will a list of some of the most dangerous trends that have made their way across TikTok. The list is a sad reminder that parents have got to watch their kids like a hawk when they're using a phone and engaging with apps. No matter how many safeguards you think you have in place, kids or certain programs can get around them.