The parents of two children have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against TikTok, claiming that the minors died from participating in a “blackout challenge” after seeing it on the social media app, The Wall Street Journal reported.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed last week in Superior Court in Los Angeles County, 8-year-old Lalani Erika Renee Walton from Temple, Texas and 9-year-old Arriani Jaileen Arroyo from Milwaukee died last year after attempting the challenge, which involves people choking themselves until they passed out.
The lawsuit alleges that TikTok’s algorithm intentionally and repeatedly pushed the ‘blackout challenge’ on the app, motivating both children to participate. The lawsuit also alleges that TikTok failed to warn minors and their parents that the app is addictive and pushes harmful content that could endanger users’ well-being, the WSJ reported.
“TikTok knew or should have known that failing to take immediate and significant action to extinguish the spread of the deadly blackout challenge would result in more injuries and deaths, especially among children,” the lawsuit said.
A spokeswoman for TikTok said the company has never found evidence that blackout challenge has gone viral on the app. “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,” the spokeswoman said. “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.”
Back in March, eight states, including California and Massachusetts, launched an investigation into TikTok, seeking to determine whether the social media platform causes physical or mental health harm to children.
Last week, Brendan Carr, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States, called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from the App Store and Play Store due its ‘’pattern of surreptitious data practices.’’
TikTok, which has recently come under fire for its negative effects on children, has launched a series of privacy and security features for users under the age of 18. It was recently reported that the company is testing a new feature in the popular app that allows publishers to restrict their livestreams to users aged 18 and over.