After her 10-year-old daughter died while attempting a viral “blackout challenge” she saw on TikTok, a Pennsylvania mother is suing the app’s parent firm, ByteDance.
Nylah Anderson, 10, was “seriously suffocated” when completing the viral challenge on December 7, 2021, according to the lawsuit, which “encouraged the user to restrain himself with a belt, purse string, or similar until he passed out.”
Tawana Anderson, the girl’s mother, filed the case in eastern Pennsylvania on Thursday. She sued TikTok for wrongful death, strict product liability, and negligence, among other things. The lawsuit has received no public response from TikTok.
She claims her daughter watched footage of other TikTok users advertising the “Blackout Challenge,” a specially tailored content stream built by the app’s algorithms, on her For You page. According to the lawsuit, TikTok’s “algorithm found that the deadly blackout challenge was meticulously planned and may have piqued the interest of 10-year-old Nylah Anderson, resulting in her death.”
A video on Nylah’s For You page, according to Anderson, “prompted Nylah to hang a handbag on a closet hook, place his head between the bag and the shoulder strap, and hang himself until he passed out.” Nylah was unable to exit his purse and was discovered unconscious by his mother. The girl spent several days in intensive care before passing away.
The complaint claims that social media has a harmful impact on children’s mental health. The software preyed on “vulnerable users, such as minors, who are trapped in an endless dopamine feedback loop, causing addiction and a compelling want to continue using the TikTok defendant’s app,” according to the legal claims.
Anderson claims that TikTok’s “deceptive marketing methods” pushed Nylah to try to make money on the app. Nylah isn’t the first child to perish as a result of a blackout challenge. An American youngster died of suffocation in April 2021 as a result of the TikTok movement. Joshua Haileyesus, a 12-year-old Colorado boy, was discovered unconscious and out of breath in his restroom.
A 10-year-old Italian girl died in January 2021 while undertaking the Blackout Challenge. Anderson told CBS Philadelphia, “I want to hold this organization accountable.” “It’s past time to put an end to these perilous problems before more families go through what we go through every day.”