The parents of two children from Texas and Wisconsin are suing TikTok after their children died from self-strangulation while allegedly attempting to perform the “Blackout Challenge” viral on the social media platform.
The “Blackout Challenge” is reportedly a TikTok trend that dares participants to try and hold their breath including choking themselves with belts, purse strings, or other similar items, until the point of losing consciousness.
On July 15, 2021, after eight-year-old girl Lalani Erika Renee Walton returned from a road trip with her stepmother Rashika Watson, the mom told Lalani to clean up her room after which they would go swimming. However, when Rashika awoke from a one-hour nap, she walked into Lalani’s room and found Lalani hanging from her bed with a rope around her neck, KXAN News reported.
Based on the victim’s phone history and TikTok watch history, Clarksville Police determined that Lalani died from self-asphyxiation as a direct result of attempting TikTok’s “Blackout Challenge.” Lalani received her cellphone on her eighth birthday and soon got addicted to TikTok.
According to Lalani’s parents, she was an extremely sweet and outgoing young girl who wished to be a famous rapper like Cardi B.
Similarly, Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, 9, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, received a phone at age seven and started using TikTok, posting videos of herself dancing and singing.
On Feb. 26, 2021, while Arriani’s father Heriberto Arroyo was working in the basement, her younger brother Edwardo came downstairs and told him that Arriani was not moving. Arroyo rushed upstairs and found Arriani hanging by her dog’s leash which she had affixed to the door of her room.
Emergency services rushed Arriani to Children’s Hospital, where doctors placed her on life support. However, after physicians revealed that Arriani had complete loss of brain function, her family made the difficult decision to withdraw life support.
The families of both the victims have partnered with the Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC) to file a wrongful death lawsuit against TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, on June 30 in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls,” Matthew P. Bergman, founding attorney of SMVLC, said.
The lawsuit alleges that TikTok’s dangerous algorithm results in an addictive product that is not safe for users and that the app intentionally and repeatedly pushed the “Blackout Challenge” into the “For You Page” of both Lalani’s and Arriani’s accounts.