While TikTok may be able to teach you the latest dance craze or how to properly boil your pasta water, it can also be a dark place. Unfortunately, that reality has been made all too real for two families after their children died after taking part in one of the app’s notorious challenges. The TikTok challenge that led to the death of the two girls is called the “Blackout Challenge,” in which participants choke themselves until they pass out. And now, TikTok will be facing off against the law.
While the criminal charges against TikTok for the wrongful death of the girls were filed in California, the two girls lived in Texas and Wisconsin and were eight and nine, respectively. Gruesomely, we’ve come to find out that one of the girls perished by using a rope, and the other a dog leash, while attempting the social media app’s latest obsession. The lawsuit claims that the platform uses its algorithm to make sure young folks see challenges like this, something that this time proved to be deadly. And the attorneys allege that not only did the young girls see the Blackout Challenge once but that they believe that it was pushed in their faces over and over again, finally leaving an impression that they needed to try it for themselves.
The folks at the Social Media Victims Law Center, specifically attorney Matthew Bergman, made several statements surrounding the incident, including his belief that TikTok should be forced to go to court for its role in the deaths. Furthermore, he said that the platform has a history of using its space to promote ideas that could lead to bodily harm. He also alleges that the company has sunk “billions of dollars” into funding “products” like these. The lawsuit went on to claim that the United States isn’t the only country in which Blackout Challenge-related deaths have taken place, citing Australia and Italy as two other countries who have had the tragedy occur within their borders.
Over the years TikTok has been at the helm of several other death-defying challenges. There was the “Skull Breaker Challenge,” which saw one person jump in the air while someone else kicked their legs out from under them, causing them to hit the ground sideways, landing on their head. And of course, the “Coronavirus Challenge” in which TikTok users would video themselves licking items inside their homes, at stores, in the park, and elsewhere. And who could forget about the “Fire Challenge,” egging on users to drench items in flammable liquids and light them on fire.
But will things come crashing down for TikTok following the death-based lawsuit? It’s incredibly hard to say. While the law firm may have a pretty good case, something they’re hoping will see the end of children being pushed towards content of this kind and earning a cash settlement for the victims’ families, it is an uphill battle. The social media app has gotten away with a lot in the past, including claims of stealing user information, and it has been able to skirt around it every time so far. As for this case, our condolences go out to the families of both the girls in the U.S. as well as the families suffering losses abroad.