The mother of a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl who choked herself to death following a social media challenge is suing TikTok in a wrongful death lawsuit. Nylah Anderson died five days after she was found unconscious in her mother's bedroom closet in December last year after taking part in the "Blackout Challenge."
Nylah's mother, Tawainna Anderson, and her attorneys filed the lawsuit against the company on Thursday, blaming the video platform for her daughter's death as the content was 'thrust in front of her.' According to the challenge users are required to hold their breath until they faint only to regain unconsciousness on camera.
According to the Daily Mail, the lawsuit described that Nylah had hung herself from a purse strap after coming across videos related to the 'blackout challenge' on the app's 'For You' page.
"I want to hold this company accountable," Tawainna said. "It is time that these dangerous challenges come to an end, that other families don't experience the heartbreak we live every day."
At a press conference organized by social media-injury attorneys and Internet safety advocates at Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky P.C. on Thursday, Tawainna stated that she along with her attorneys are focusing on learning how TikTok's algorithm targets children, compelling them to try the dangerous and life threatening challenges.
The "algorithm determined that the deadly blackout challenge was well-tailored and likely to be of interest to 10-year-old Nylah Anderson and she died as a result," the lawsuit mentions.
The lawsuit also specified other similar challenges like the Orbeez Challenge, the Benadryl Challenge and a few others, that are intentionally designed to hold on to the user's attention at all costs.
Attorneys for Saltz Mongeluzzi and Bendesky state that until now 6 people have reportedly died after participating in the challenge and along with this lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office has also been contacted to further investigate TikTok and the impact of the video platform on minors using the app, CBS Philly reported.
Tawainna has vowed to take a stand to protect other children from such fatal and irrational challenges, "I have accepted that my daughter's voice is gone forever so I'm going to speak for her and the message here today is something has to change," she said.
Before the lawsuit was filed, Tiktok released an official statement addressing the claims, "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. 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," the Chinese owned company said.