Pennsylvania family of girl killed in social media challenge sues TikTok

Pennsylvania family of girl killed in social media challenge sues TikTok

The family of a child killed while attempting a social media challenge has filed a wrongful death lawsuit 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 choking yourself 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 with a targeted, fatal ‘Blackout Challenge’ suffocation video that allegedly caused her death,” the law firm wrote , representing the family .


SMB is filing the lawsuit on behalf of Naylah’s mother, Tawainna Anderson. The lawsuit accuses TikTok of gross negligence for lack of content screening and easy access for young viewers.

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

“Social media superpowers like TikTok have seized the opportunity presented by the ‘digital wild west’ to manipulate and control the behavior of vulnerable children to maximize revenue and profits,” wrote corporate partner Jeffrey Goodman. “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 kids.”

TikTok denies that the “blackout challenge” was a TikTok “trend,” stating that it found no evidence that such content was trending on the platform and that content encouraging dangerous behavior goes against community guidelines would be violated.

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In this photo illustration a TikTok logo seen 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 troubling ‘challenge,’ which people seem to be learning about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and was never a TikTok trend,” a company spokesman said. “We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would remove appropriate content immediately if found. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family for their tragic loss.”

TikTok is typically marketed to children aged 13 and older. An alternative version of the platform is available for younger users.

The lawsuit will be filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


How children consume social mediaespecially on TikTok, is likely to negatively impact their attention span, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

“It’s hard to consider the increasing trends in media consumption of all kinds, media multitasking and ADHD rates [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] in Young people and not conclude that their attention spans are decreasing,” said Dr. Carl Marci, ret psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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

Fox News’ Shiv Sudhakar contributed to this report.

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