An American family is suing TikTok after their 10-year-old daughter allegedly drowned while taking part in a viral challenge on the video-sharing platform last year.
Nylah Anderson was discovered unresponsive in her bedroom in suburban Philadelphia in December 2021, according to a formal complaint filed in federal court. She was reportedly attempting a viral “blackout challenge” and spent five days in an intensive care unit before succumbing to her injuries.
Her mother, Tawainna Anderson, accused TikTok and its parent company ByteDance of negligence and having a “flawed design,” claiming her daughter attempted the challenge after watching a TikTok video and suffocated to death.
She said the dangerous challenge was “pushed in front” of her TikTok feed by the algorithm that was tailored to the interests of a 10-year-old.
“The algorithm determined that the deadly blackout challenge was well designed and would likely be of interest to 10-year-old Nylah Anderson, and she died as a result,” it said in the complaint.
The “blackout challenge” encouraged users to choke to death and regain consciousness on camera. The challenge has allegedly led to similar deaths in the past.
The platform did not immediately respond to the lawsuit, but said in an earlier statement in response to Anderson’s death: “This disturbing challenge, which people seem to be learning about from sources other than TikTok, predates our platform.”
At a news conference, Ms. Anderson broke down when she said: “I can’t stop replaying this day in my head.”
“The unbreakable bond in our family is now broken and empty,” she added, describing her daughter as an active, happy, healthy and incredibly intelligent girl who spoke three languages.
“It is time for these dangerous challenges to come to an end so that other families do not experience the heartbreak that we experience every day,” he said.
According to Ms. Anderson’s attorney, a forensic analysis of Nylah’s phone showed that the app was in use at the time she was discovered unconscious.
“Nylah endured hellish suffering as she struggled and struggled to breathe and slowly suffocated to near death,” the suit says.
The challenge is linked to at least four other deaths of children who accepted the challenge, according to the lawsuit.
The growing popularity of social media platforms and aggressive algorithms have driven young users to perform dangerous stunts, such as climbing pyramids of stacked milk crates, licking toilet seats for the coronavirus challenge, and eating corn cobs tied together. to electric drills.
“Social media superpowers like the TikTok defendants have seized the opportunity presented by the digital Wild West to manipulate and control the behavior of vulnerable children in order to maximize the attention devoted to their social media platforms and thus maximize revenue. and profits, all while avoiding any security responsibilities. ”, the lawsuit said.