A lawsuit has been launched against TikTok by two parents who claim it served dangerous content that led to their children’s deaths.
The New York Times reports the girls were just eight and nine when they died last year, and their parents say they died after viewing and attempting the “blackout challenge.”
The “challenge” involves encouraging users to choke themselves until they pass out, according to the lawsuit – which was filed on Thursday in Superior Court in Los Angeles County.
The suit claims TikTok knew or should have known that its product was “addictive.
It also claims it was directing children to harmful content and that it failed to take action to stop the videos or give warnings to children and their parents.
It also cites TikTok’s “For You” page, which the complainant says shows a stream of videos selected by a TikTok algorithm based on a user’s demographic, “likes,” and previous activity on the app.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
Matthew P. Bergman, founding lawyer of the Social Media Victims Law Center, a private law firm created to hold social media companies accountable for harm caused to children, said: “TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls.”
A TikTok spokeswoman said the company would not comment on continuing litigation.
But the spokeswoman did mention a statement from December, when People magazine revealed a mother from Pennsylvania said her 10-year-old daughter had died while attempting the “blackout challenge.”
She said: “This disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend,
The statement linked to a federal report about deaths from a “choking game” between 1995 to 2007 – long before TikTok came to prominence.
She added: “We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss.”