TikTok found not liable for child’s death from ‘Blackout Challenge’

A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the popular short video platform TikTok that claimed it was responsible for the death of a 10-year-old girl cause it recommended videos of the ‘’Blackout Challenge’’, which encourages users to choke themselves until they pass out.

TikTok and its parent company ByteDance was sued in May by Taiwanna Anderson after she found her daughter, Nylah Anderson, hanging from a purse strap in her home in December last year. She lost her life after staying in the pediatric intensive care unit for days, according to the lawsuit. The mother claimed that TikTok showed videos of the ‘’Blackout Challenge’’ on her for you page (FYP) and they encouraged her to participate in it.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia ruled that TikTok was shielded from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which came into effect in 1996 and protects website platforms from being held accountable for posts shared by their users. 

Defendants did not create the Challenge; rather, they made it readily available on their site,” Diamond said. “Defendants’ algorithm was a way to bring the Challenge to the attention of those likely to be most interested in it. In thus promoting the work of others, Defendants published that work — exactly the activity Section 230 shields from liability.

He said that even if TikTok had recommended the video, it could not be held liable.

The wisdom of conferring such immunity is something properly taken up with Congress, not the courts,” the judge wrote.

The Andersons’ attorney Jeffrey Goodman said that the family doesn’t agree with the decision.

The federal Communications Decency Act was never intended to allow social media companies to send dangerous content to children, and the Andersons will continue advocating for the protection of our children from an industry that exploits youth in the name of profits,” Goodman said.

TikTok is facing multiple wrongful death lawsuits due to the videos of the ‘’Blackout Challenge’’. In July, parents of two children sued the company alleging that they died while participating in the challenge.

Written by Maya Robertson


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