Share

TikTok sued in US after girls die in 'Blackout Challenge'

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
TikTok requires moderators to work at a frantic pace, watching hundreds of videos per 12-hour shift.
TikTok requires moderators to work at a frantic pace, watching hundreds of videos per 12-hour shift.
Getty Images

Video-sharing sensation TikTok is being sued in California after children died while taking part in a "Blackout Challenge" that makes a sport of choking oneself until passing out.

The lawsuit filed in state court in Los Angeles last week accuses TikTok software of "intentionally and repeatedly" pushing the Blackout Challenge that led to the deaths of an eight-year-old girl in Texas and a nine-year-old girl in Wisconsin last year.

"TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls," said Matthew Bergman, an attorney at the Social Media Victims Law Centre, which filed the suit.

"TikTok has invested billions of dollars to intentionally design products that push dangerous content that it knows are dangerous and can result in the deaths of its users."

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit alleges that TikTok's algorithm promoted the Blackout Challenge to each of the girls, who died from self-strangulation — one using rope and the other a dog leash.

It additionally listed children in Italy, Australia and elsewhere whose deaths have been linked to the TikTok Blackout Challenge.

TikTok has featured and promoted an array of challenges in which users film themselves taking part in themed acts that are sometimes dangerous.

Among the litany of TikTok challenges described in court documents was the "Skull Breaker Challenge" in which people have their legs kicked out from under them while jumping so they flip and hit their heads.

The "Coronavirus Challenge" involves licking random items and surfaces in public during the pandemic, and the "Fire Challenge" involves dousing things with flammable liquid and setting them ablaze, court documents said.

The suit calls for a judge to order TikTok to stop hooking children via its algorithm and promoting dangerous challenges, and to pay unspecified cash damages.

Get the biggest business stories emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Fin24 front page.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
heading
description
username
Show Comments ()
Rand - Dollar
19.13
+0.4%
Rand - Pound
23.80
+0.3%
Rand - Euro
20.47
+0.4%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.73
+0.7%
Rand - Yen
0.14
+0.8%
Platinum
1,019.90
-1.9%
Palladium
1,391.45
-1.2%
Gold
1,943.73
-1.0%
Silver
23.49
-0.5%
Brent Crude
76.29
-0.6%
Top 40
71,833
+0.3%
All Share
77,126
+0.4%
Resource 10
70,231
+1.0%
Industrial 25
103,486
-0.4%
Financial 15
15,357
+1.4%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE
Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders