Parents in Wisconsin, Texas sued TikTok after kids died during ‘Blackout Challenge’

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Arriani Arroyo

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Parents of children who died last year trying to take part in the TikTok Blackout Challenge. sued the popular social network.

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Arriani Jaylene Arroyo’s father, Heriberto Arroyo, found his 9-year-old daughter hanged at their Milwaukee home in February 2021 after her younger brother reported she was not moving.

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The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the Social Media Victims Law Center. He makes similar claims on behalf of Lalani’s mother, 8-year-old Erica Renee Walton of Temple, Texas, who he says also died by self-suffocation while attempting an assignment last July.

The complaints allege that TikTok’s algorithm has consistently made Blackout Challenge videos appear on “for you” girls’ pages, where users see random videos they might like based on what they’ve previously watched.

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The suit alleges that TikTok knows that many of its users are under the age of 13 and that it sells it to people under 13, despite the fact that the user terms imply limiting the use of the app to those 13 and older.

“TikTok has specifically curated and determined that these Blackout Challenge videos — videos of users purposefully strangling themselves into unconsciousness — are appropriate and appropriate for young children,” the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, young users’ incomplete brain development makes them more likely to become addicted to using TikTok and watching videos designed to hold their attention for longer periods of time.

Arriani got a phone at the age of 7 and soon followed TikTok. At first, she watched and filmed dance videos. She studied ballet at school.

Then she discovered the problems.

“Sometimes she discussed this with her parents, and because all the issues they discussed included problems with eating and drinking, which seemed harmless and not dangerous at all, Arriani’s parents did not consider these actions dangerous,” the lawsuit says.

“They understood that TikTok was a family-oriented social network designed for children and safe to use.”

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According to the lawsuit, Lalani also used the app to entertain herself with videos. She had just returned from a trip last July when her stepmother told Lalani to clean her room while her stepmother was resting from the road. After sleeping they went to bathe.

Lalani Walton

When the stepmother entered Lalani’s room about an hour later, she found the girl hanging from her bed. She unfolded her bathing suit. The neighbor freed Lalani and called 911.

Police determined that Lalani died of suicide as a result of an attempt to participate in the TikTok Blackout Challenge.

The lawsuit brings strict liability claims against TikTok based on both defective design and lack of warning, negligence, and violation of California consumer remedies law.

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It seeks unspecified damages, punitive damages, lost wages, medical and funeral expenses, and other expenses for all three plaintiffs.

On Tuesday, TikTok officials did not immediately respond to a request left through the company’s media contact.

Follow Bruce Vielmetti on Twitter: @ProofHearsay.

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