According to their parents, Lalani Walton and Arriani Arroyo died from self-strangulation. With the help of the Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC), the relatives of these victims have brought a wrongful death claim against TikTok and ByteDance, the app’s parent company. According to the lawsuit, Lalani, 8, of Temple, Texas, and Arriani, 9, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, “died of self-strangulation while participating in TikTok’s “Blackout Challenge,” which encourages users to strangle themselves with belts, purse strings, or other similar things until passing out.”
Read on: Why you Should Delete TikTok
According to Matthew P. Bergman, the founder attorney of SMVLC, TikTok needs to answer for exposing these two kids to dangerous information.
A TikTok official expressed the company’s “deepest sympathies go out to the family for their horrible loss.”
“This terrifying ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, has long before our platform and has never been a TikTok fad,” the official told McClatchy News.
We are strong in our commitment to user safety, and if any pertinent material is found, we will immediately delete it. We offer the family our deepest sympathies for their terrible loss.
“Hopes of getting famous on TikTok”
On April 23, 2021, Lalani turned 8 and received her first smartphone, according to the complaint. She “soon developed an addiction to watching TikTok videos and submitted a ton of TikTok movies of herself singing and dancing in the goal of becoming TikTok famous.”
The legal team claims that sometime in July, the “TikTok Blackout Challenge” was displayed to the 8-year-old girl using TikTok’s algorithm.
Lalani had recently returned on a road trip with her stepmother, Ms. Watson, during which she had been enjoying herself by viewing TikTok videos on her device, according to SMVLC.
After taking a break from the lengthy journey, Lalani’s stepmother instructed her to tidy up her room before they went swimming. Ms. Watson was shocked to discover the door locked when she arrived at Lalani’s room after an hour-long nap.
Lalani was unconscious when she entered, according to the lawsuit. The boy was injured and an ambulance was dispatched, but he later passed away.
The defense team claimed that when Lalani died, the police removed her phone and tablet and told her stepmother that she had not killed herself. The policeman displayed to her footage of the “Blackout Task” and informed her that Lalani had been repeatedly viewing the video and had tried the challenge herself.
“Committed to taking part in TikTok challenges”
Arriani “gradually grew infatuated with participating in TikTok challenges” after receiving her first phone at age seven, said SMVLC.
Because several of these TikTok tasks featured eating and dancing, the legal team said that Arriani’s parents did not consider them risky.
But on February 26, when Arriani’s dad was in the cellar and her mother was at a church function, her five-year-old brother discovered her “not moving,” the complaint claims. Tests at the hospital found she had “permanent, irrevocable, and full loss of brain function” after she was taken there.
SMVLC claims that once life support was turned off, they discovered that she had been taking part in the Blackout Challenge just before she passed away.
“Dangerous challenges and acts”
According to the complaint, TikTok “pushes hazardous content” to users and is addicting, which contributed to Lalani and Arriani’s deaths.
According to the TikTok community rules, users are not allowed to share any material that “glorifies risky conduct that may result in significant harm or death.”
The policy specifies that risky acts and other behavior are “activities undertaken in a non-professional environment or without the requisite skills and safety procedures that may lead to significant harm or death for the user or the public.” “This includes risky challenges or amateur feats.”
According to TikTok, videos that transgress this rule will be deleted from the platform.
The family who filed the complaint demanded a jury trial and compensation for their: pain, suffering, and loss.