A group of parents in the US are suing TikTok and the parent company of the social network Bytedance after the death of their children due to a strangulation challenge, writes The New York Times. According to the plaintiffs, the social network intentionally showed children dangerous content.
The lawsuit, registered in Los Angeles County Superior Court, was filed by the parents of two girls who participated in the challenge: they strangled themselves until they passed out, as shown on TikTok. According to the injured party, the social network algorithm selected such videos and determined that they can be shown to young children.
The lawsuit alleges that one of the victims, who was eight years old, became addicted to TikTok shortly after she got her first phone. The girl, unconscious and with a rope around her neck, was found in her room by her stepmother, who briefly lay down to rest and did not watch the child. Later, the police found that the girl repeatedly looked through the Tiktok challenge, trying to repeat it.
In total, the lawsuit refers to the death of seven children due to the challenge in 2021 in the United States and Australia, The Verge notes . The mother of one of the victims also sued the social network, in response to this lawsuit, TikTok banned its users from searching for videos for a specific request. The new appeal to the court says that the children did not look for the challenge on purpose, but saw it in their feed, which is based on an algorithm that takes into account the user's personal preferences.
TikTok repeated one of its previous statements and expressed condolences to all the families whose children died, and also reported that the challenge appeared long before the social network.
When kids see a lot of likes on challenge videos, they might think the TikTok "task" is safe and start doing it, said Dr. Lois Lee, board member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, NYT. Children of primary school age do not know and do not understand what is dangerous and what is not, she believes.
Challenges (from the English challenge, test) are one of the important parts of TikTok. Some of them are harmless: for example, users record videos of themselves dancing to certain music. Others, on the contrary, are dangerous. So, in 2021, TikTok users were encouraged to vandalize schools and steal soap dispensers.