Wrongful death lawsuit filed against TikTok after Temple girl dies while participating in ‘Blackout Challenge’
TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) -The Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC) has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the death of Lalani Erika Walton, 8, of Temple, Texas, who allegedly died of self-strangulation while participating in TikTok’s “Blackout Challenge.”
The social media challenge propagated by users on TikTok encourages users to choke themselves with belts, purse strings or other similar items until passing out, according to the SMVLC.
The lawsuit alleges TikTok’s “dangerous algorithm intentionally and repeatedly pushed the deadly ‘Blackout Challenge’” into Lalani’s feed in her TikTok profile, the SMVLC alleges.
The suit also claims TikTok’s “defective design of its social media product” resulted in an “addictive product that is not safe for users and fails to warn minors and their parents that TikTok is addictive and pushes harmful content .... that could endanger their wellbeing.”
In a statement to the The Washington Post, a TikTok spokesperson said the “disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend.”
“We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found,” the spokesperson said. TikTok told The Washington Post it has blocked the hashtag #BlackoutChallenge from its search engine.
“TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls,” said SMVLC Founding Attorney Matthew P. Bergman.
“TikTok has invested billions of dollars to intentionally design products that push dangerous content that it knows are dangerous and can result in the deaths of its users.”
Lalani had reportedly just returned from a road trip with her stepmother on the afternoon of July 15, 2021 and “had been amusing herself by watching TikTok videos on her device,” a news release from SMVLC states.
Lalani’s stepmother reportedly told Lalani to clean up her room while she rested from the long drive.
After the stepmother awoke from a one-hour nap, she walked upstairs to Lalani’s room and was surprised to find the door closed.
“She walked in and found Lalani hanging from her bed with a rope around her neck still warm to the touch. Lalani had laid out her bathing suit in anticipation of going swimming,” the news release states.
According to the SMVLC, investigators determined the girl “died from self-asphyxiation.”
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