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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Sophie Collins

TikTok sued over 'dangerous algorithm' after two young girls die taking part in viral challenge

The popular video-sharing app, TikTok, is being sued by two families after their daughters both allegedly died as a result of a viral trend.

Several families have come forward to slam the app for its ‘dangerous’ algorithms and to say that the videos they aim at younger people are to blame for these tragedies.

The specific challenge being referenced in this most recent lawsuit is called the ‘blackout challenge’ in which both girls, aged eight and nine years old, died taking part.

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It is understood that there are more children across the globe that have died while trying out this challenge that went viral back in 2021 and the Social Media Victims Law Center is trying to bring justice to families affected.

It also states that the families are seeking ‘an unspecified amount in damages’ and have requested a trial with a full jury to take place in California.

TikTok sued over 'dangerous algorithm' after two young girls die taking part in viral challenge (Zuma Press/PA Images)

According to those involved, the platform’s ‘dangerous algorithm intentionally and repeatedly’ pushes videos of this dangerous challenge - and others like it - into the feeds of young users, which encourages them to participate.

Speaking about these incidents, Matthew P Bergman, founding attorney of Social Media Victims Law Center - which is a legal resource for parents of children affected by social media addiction and abuse - said: “TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls.

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

An 8-year-old girl from Texas passed away on July 15, 2022, and police have since determined that it was “a direct result of attempting TikTok’s “blackout challenge’”, according to the lawsuit filed at the Los Angeles county superior court.

Lalani Erika Renee Walton was reportedly given a phone as a gift for her eighth birthday back in April 2021.

She began posting videos of herself singing and dancing, in the hopes of becoming “TikTok famous” one day, like so many of her, and other young people’s peers.

“She was under the belief that if she posted a video of herself doing the Blackout Challenge, then she would become famous and so she decided to give it a try," it said.

The second victim named in this lawsuit was a 9-year-old girl, Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, who was given a phone at the age of 7.

On February 26, 2021, Arroyo was unresponsive by her younger brother, who was just five years old - but could not be revived.

The complaint filed continued by saying: “TikTok unquestionably knew that the deadly Blackout Challenge was spreading through their app and that their algorithm was specifically feeding the Blackout Challenge to children, including those who have died.”

TikTok has yet to release a statement on the matter, and the Irish Mirror has contacted them for comment in relation to this case.


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