TikTok sued after two young girls die participating in ‘blackout challenge’

Two children died after participating in a popular TikTok challenge and now their parents are suing the social media company for damages, Daily Wire reports.

The lawsuit accuses TikTok of not censoring harmful content, which resulted in the death of two young girls–ages 8 and 9. The two sets of parents say that the platform is designed to be highly addictive in nature and doesn’t provide adequate warnings for dangerous content.

The two girls died after participating in what is known as the “blackout challenge,” where users on the app either hold their breath or strangle themselves on video until they lose consciousness. They then upload their “unconscious” videos to TikTok.

Matthew Bergman, a lawyer representing the parents, told Morning Wire, “there are over 12 children in the United States that we know of who have died from the TikTok Blackout Challenge [and] 40 children in the Pacific region who have died of it as well.”

“The goal of this lawsuit is to hold this company accountable for designing a product with an algorithm that directs young children to content that causes them to engage in this very dangerous and in many cases, fatal activity,” Bergman said.

The lawyer mentioned that TikTok created documents detailing how the app is designed to engage “young users with their product for as long and as intensely as they possibly can.”

“They’ve designed algorithms, expressly designed one to addict kids into understanding the nature of human psychology,” Bergman said.

TikTok declined to provide a statement to The New York Times but referenced a statement from December where they issued a comment to People Magazine after another child had died doing the same challenge.

The statement said, “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…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.”

Several United States Attorneys General’s launched a nationwide bipartisan probe into TikTok earlier this year over its promotion to children. In response, TikTok announced that they would be altering the platform’s “For You” page, which promotes content that they think will spark interest in users, the outlet reports.

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