Two families in the United States are suing video sharing platform TikTok after their daughters died attempting the so-called "blackout challenge", ABC News reported. The girls - nine-year-old Arriani Jaileen and eight-year-old Lalani Walton - died by asphyxiation last year. The wrongful death lawsuits have been filed by a group named Social Media Victims Law Centre on behalf of the families. They parents of both the girls claim that they died after participating in the challenge going viral on the social media platform.
According to the lawsuit filed by Arriani Jaileen's parents, she received her first mobile phone from her parents when she was seven. The girl downloaded TikTok and started posting videos of herself dancing and singing.
But later, she became obsessed with participating in TikTok challenges, Fox 4 reported quoting her parents. They initially did not regard this as dangerous because most of the challenges involved eating and dancing, the outlet further said.
But the "blackout challenge" was different and dangerous. The lawsuits allege that the company's app fed the girls videos associated with the viral challenge in which participants attempt to choke themselves into unconsciousness. Both the girls died after joining in, it further said.
It claims that "at all times relevant, TikTok's algorithm was designed to promote 'TikTok Challenges' to young users to increase their engagement and maximise TikTok's profits", said Fox 4.
Arriani's five-year-old brother found her unconscious at their home in February last year. The little boy informed his father who was working in the basement, said Fox 4, adding that the girl was rushed to a children's hospital where she was placed on life support.
Walton too started using TikTok by posting her singing and dancing videos. She also got involved in the challenge and was found dead at her home in July last year.
Arriani's parents told ABC News that the families are speaking out in hopes of preventing other children from falling victim to the same crushing fates as their daughters. "We want to make sure that we can save other kids," her father Heriberto Arroyo Roman said. They want the company to be held accountable.
In the lawsuit filed on June 30, Social Media Victims Law Centre has listed multiple such instances from different states in the US as well as other countries where children died by asphyxiation after attempting the came challenge.
The videos related to this challenge were suggested to them on their TikTok "For You" pages, the lawsuit has further alleged.
Meanwhile, responding to the allegations, TikTok said in a statement to a US outlet, "We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found."