The family of a 10-year-old girl who choked on a TikTok challenge is suing the video platform for negligence and “poor design”.
Nylah Anderson of Philadelphia was found unconscious in her mother’s bedroom closet on December 7th.
She hanged herself from a purse strap after viewing videos related to the “Blackout Challenge” on the app’s “For You” page, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Pennsylvania federal court.
The challenge encourages users to self-choke, pass out, and regain consciousness on camera.
Nylah’s mother, Tawainna, says the company was to blame for her death because the content was “supervised” to her.
“I can’t stop replaying that day in my head,” Tawainna said at a news conference on Thursday. “The unbreakable bond in our family is now shattered and void.”
Last year, a 12-year-old boy died after choking himself with a shoelace for the same challenge, his family says.
Nylah Anderson, 10, was found unconscious in her mother’s bedroom closet on December 7
The “active” and “incredibly intelligent” girl choked herself with a purse trap for a TikTok challenge, according to a lawsuit filed by her mother
Nylah’s mother Tawainna is suing TikTok for “shoving” her daughter in the face with the dangerous challenge. She is demanding unspecified damages
Nylah was an “active, happy, healthy and incredibly intelligent child” who spoke three languages, according to the lawsuit.
She is survived by her mother and her two brothers, Nakye Anderson and Kevin Freeman Lamarr Neal III.
The 10-year-old girl attempted the ‘blackout challenge’ in her mother’s closet while her mother was downstairs.
A forensic analysis of her phone revealed that the app was being used at the time, according to her mother’s lawyers.
“Nylah endured excruciating suffering while struggling to breathe and slowly suffocating to near death,” the lawsuit reads.
Tawainna found her daughter and attempted several rounds of CPR until paramedics arrived.
Nylah spent five days in the pediatric intensive care unit and died on December 12, 2021.
Her family’s lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, blames TikTok for developing an app that promotes dangerous challenges for children.
A search for the hashtag #blackoutchallenge on TikTok has returned no results since Thursday afternoon. The company says its main app is aimed at people aged 13 and over, although it also operates a version of the app designed for younger users.
In a statement before filing the lawsuit, the Chinese-owned company said, “This troubling ‘challenge’ that people seem to be hearing about from sources other than TikTok predates our platform and was never a TikTok trend.”
“We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would remove appropriate content immediately if found.”
But Nylah’s mother says the company intentionally designs its app to get the attention of its young users at all costs.
The “algorithm determined that the deadly blackout challenge was well tailored and likely of interest to 10-year-old Nylah Anderson and she died as a result,” the lawsuit reads.
It names a number of other dangerous challenges, including the “Orbeez Challenge,” which asks viewers to shoot the plastic pellets at people.
Also named is the “Benadryl challenge,” in which people drink large amounts of the cough medicine until they hallucinate.
A search for the “Blackout Challenge” in the video app returns no results as of Thursday afternoon. According to TikTok, the main app is aimed at users aged 13 and over
“I have accepted that my daughter’s voice is gone forever, so I will speak for her, and the message here today is that something needs to change,” said Tawainna Anderson
Another is the “Nyquil Chicken Challenge,” in which “chicken breasts are soaked and boiled in cough medicine such as Nyquil, the water and alcohol in it are boiled off, and the chicken is left saturated with a highly concentrated amount of drugs in the meat.” according to court records.
Tawainna Anderson’s product liability and negligence lawsuit seeks to hold TikTok responsible for its role as the designer, programmer, manufacturer, seller and distributor of its dangerously flawed social media products and for its own acts of independent negligence.
Speaking to her lawyers at a news conference, Nylah’s mother said she advocates for other children.
“I have accepted that my daughter’s voice is gone forever so I will speak for her and the message here today is that something needs to change.
“Something has to stop because I don’t want any other parent to go through what I’ve been going through since December 7,” Tawainna said.
Last April, a 12-year-old Colorado boy died after his parents said he choked himself with a shoelace until he lost consciousness from the same challenge.
Joshua Haileyesus’ family shared an update on a GoFundMe page confirming his death.
Joshua Haileyesus (pictured), 12, died after his parents said he choked himself with a shoelace until he lost consciousness over TikTok’s “blackout challenge.”
Joshua was found passed out in the bathroom of his home by his twin brother on March 22. His family (pictured) believe he may have used the shoelace to take part in the challenge
“After fighting the good fight on life support for 19 days, Joshua left to be with the Lord,” the family wrote.
“Your prayers and love have comforted us and we are grateful for your support.”
Joshua was found passed out in the bathroom of his home by his twin brother on March 22, 2021.
His brother tried to revive him until neighbors and the ambulance arrived, according to the family.
His family believes he may have used the shoelace to participate in the Blackout Challenge that circulated on TikTok last year.
Joshua’s death is mentioned in the recent lawsuit.
TikTok is very popular among very young users.
According to the lawsuit, about 28 percent of its users are children under the age of 18. As of April 2020, the company’s total worldwide downloads surpassed 2 million.