Pennsylvania family of girl who died trying social media challenge sues TikTok

The family of a child killed attempting a social media challenge has filed a wrongful death suit against TikTok.

Nylah Anderson, 10, died in December while attempting the “blackout challenge” on social media app TikTok, according to Fox 29 Philadelphia. The challenge, which has existed in one form or another for years, is to choke oneself long enough to lose consciousness.

“Today, Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky PC filed a landmark federal complaint against TikTok and Bytedance for providing 10-year-old Nylah Anderson a targeted, deadly ‘blackout challenge’ choking video that allegedly caused her death,” the law firm representing the family wrote .

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SMB is filing the suit on behalf of Naylah’s mother, Tawainna Anderson. The suit alleges fatal negligence from TikTok due to a lack of content screening and ease of access for young viewers.

In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is displayed on an Apple iPhone Aug. 7, 2020, in Washington. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images / Getty Images)

“Social media superpowers like TikTok have seized the opportunity present by the ‘digital Wild West’ to manipulate and control the behavior of vulnerable children to maximize revenue and profits,” firm partner Jeffrey Goodman wrote. “This industry has neglected its safety responsibilities for too long. It’s time for social media giants like TikTok to make social media safe and protect children.”

TikTok disputes that the “blackout challenge” was a TikTok “trend,” saying that it did not find evidence that such content was trending on the platform and that content promoting dangerous behavior would violate its community guidelines.

tiktok

In this photo illustration a TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone with stock market percentages in the background. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“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,” a company spokesperson said. “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.”

TikTok is generally marketed for children 13 years and older. An alternative version of the platform is available for younger users.

The suit is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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The way children are consuming social mediaespecially on TikTok, is likely negatively affecting their attention spans, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

“It’s hard to look at increasing trends in media consumption of all types, media multitasking and rates of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] in young people and not conclude that there is a decrease in their attention span, “said Dr. Carl Marci, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Although the link between ADHD and screen time is debatable, new research suggests the type of short and fast-paced videos that children consume today are partly to blame for why they struggle to participate in longer-term activities.

Fox News’ Shiv Sudhakar contributed to this report.

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