As many as 80 people have died as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TikTok is no stranger to viral phenomena that can be harmful to its users. The “blackout challenge” is the latest in a long line of dangerous and even deadly hobbies that include everything from “dry-scooping” and ingesting pre-workout powder by itself to scaling milk box stacks and even removing one’s own IUD.
According to People, the “blackout challenge” has been present since at least 2008, although it only reappeared on TikTok in 2021. Young people have been urged by experts not to participate in the fad, which the CDC reports have been responsible for more than 80 deaths.
Even still, parents are finding it difficult to keep up with all of the issues that end up on their children’s monitors. Arriani Arroyo’s family, for example, has turned to TikTok in an attempt to find out what happened to their 9-year-old daughter.
As a result of Arriani’s death in February of 2021, her parents have filed a lawsuit against Facebook in an effort to keep other children safe and prevent another fatality, according to the family’s attorney Matthew Bergman, Wisconsin radio station WTMJ.
WTMJ quotes Bergman as saying, “The most important thing is just [how] lethal this TikTok blackout challenge is and how predictable it was,” which he emphasized. Not just Arriani’s family is suing, however.
Continue reading to learn more about TikTok’s legal woes, including the lethal challenge.
What is the ‘Blackout Challenge’ About?
According to People, participants in the “blackout challenge” are encouraged to choke themselves or hold their breath until they pass out owing to a lack of oxygen. This challenge is also known as the “choking challenge” or the “pass-out challenge.”
According to the explanation that Dr. Nick Flynn provided to the Irish Examiner, “What is truly going on in the brain is a lack of oxygen akin to when someone is drowning, suffocating, or having a cardiac arrest.” It is possible to sustain brain damage if the oxygen supply to the brain is cut off for more than three minutes, and it is possible for death to occur if the oxygen supply to the brain is cut off for more than five minutes.
The CDC also put out a list of signs that someone might be trying the “blackout challenge,” such as:
Marks on their neck
Feeling disoriented after spending time alone
“Because most parents in the study had not heard of the choking game, we hope to raise awareness of the choking game among parents, health care providers, and educators, so they can recognize warning signs of the activity,” said Robin L. Toblin, Ph.D., M.P.H., according to the CDC. “This is especially important because children themselves may not appreciate the dangers of this activity.”
“This distressing ‘challenge,’ which individuals seem to hear about from places other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok fad,” a spokeswoman for TikTok told People.
They continued by saying, “We remain attentive in our commitment to user safety and would swiftly remove such content if detected.”
Tiktok is Also Being Sued Over the “Blackout” Issue
According to The Washington Post, Nylah Anderson, who was only 10 years old when she passed away in December, died of asphyxiation after hanging herself in her closet by accident. After she was discovered, she was sent to the hospital as quickly as possible. The doctors did everything they could to bring her back, but it was too late. An examination of the young girl’s phone by a forensic expert revealed that, shortly before she passed away, she had been using TikTok to view videos of blackout challenges.
According to The Washington Post, in May 2022, her mother, Tawainna Anderson, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the widely used app in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Her lawsuit asserts that TikTok violates various “”predatory and manipulative app” that promotes “exceedingly and unreasonably risky tasks” while “programming minors for the sake of corporate profits and fostering addiction.”
According to Insider, lawsuits concerning the deaths of Lalani Erika Walton, who was eight years old, and Arriani Arroyo were submitted in the month of July. The claims, which link to the TikTok challenge and claim wrongful death, were submitted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
After attempting the challenges, both youngsters were discovered hanging from the ceiling, having suffocated to death. (After investigating Lalani’s phone and tablet, the authorities discovered that she had been participating in the blackout challenge by watching YouTube videos.)
Although TikTok has previously denied that the challenge is associated with the platform, considering that it was known as “the choking game” before the app, the Social Media Victims Law Center’s complaint stated that TikTok “unquestionably knew” that the challenge was going viral all over their app and that they “should have known that failing to take immediate and significant action to extinguish the spread of the deadly Blackout Challenge would result in more injuries and deaths, es.” “a statement made by The Los Angeles Times.
According to The Washington Post, TikTok has removed the #BlackoutChallenge from its internal search engine.
The Challenge Has Resulted in Other Deaths
Unfortuitously, Nylah, Lalani, and Arriani are not the only youngsters to pass away as a result of their participation in this challenge. According to The Washington Post, four additional children under the age of 14 have also passed away as a result of trying to imitate the films. All of these deaths are referenced in Nylah’s complaint.
Anderson issued a word of caution to other parents, telling ABC Action News, “Make sure you check your kids’ phones.” She was quoted as saying this. “You never know what kind of information you might find on their mobile devices. You wouldn’t imagine children of that age would do something like this. They are only children, so they don’t know any better, but they are trying their best.”