TikTok Inc. was blamed in a lawsuit for the death of a 10-year-old girl who allegedly participated in an online challenge in which people choke themselves until they black out.
Nylah Anderson, an intelligent child who could speak three languages, was found unconscious in her bedroom in suburban Philadelphia on Dec. 7, according to a complaint filed Thursday in federal court. She spent five days in a pediatric intensive care unit before succumbing to her injuries.
Anderson’s family accused the social media platform of marketing a defective product and negligence, saying in the suit that the dangerous dare “was thrust in front” of the girl by TikTok on her “for you” page.
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,” according to the complaint, which also names TikTok parent company ByteDance Inc. as a defendant.
TikTok does not comment on ongoing litigation, a company spokesperson said. In a previous statement issued in response to Anderson’s death, the company said “this disturbing challenge, which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform.”
TikTok remains vigilant in its commitment to user safety and would remove any content related to the blackout challenge from its app, the spokesperson said, adding “our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss.”
The TikTok case joins others that accuse social media companies of wrongful deaths, including one over a car crash that killed three young men who were allegedly using a Snapchat speedometer feature to record themselves driving at more than 120 mph and another linking a 16-year-old’s suicide to an Instagram addiction.