A viral TikTok challenge has been making its rounds called the “blackout challenge”: another in a long line of stupidly dangerous stunts that attracts unknowing children and teens to inadvertently strangle themselves in social media videos.
TikTok is already facing multiple lawsuits from parents who are claiming their children have died due to the blackout challenge, having been shown how to do it by videos of others performing it on the platform. It feels like every few years a similar “challenge” or stunt makes the rounds through whatever social media attracts teens.
One lawsuit, from June, alleges that there have already been seven deaths over the past year from children attempting the challenge – where the video(s) “encourages users to choke themselves with belts, purse strings, or anything similar until passing out.”.
Another instance involves the mother of ten year old Nylah Anderson (whom has also died attempting the challenge) suing TikTok for “pushing exceedingly and unacceptably dangerous challenges.” You can view a more detailed look into that case and the tragedy surrounding it via this Washington Post article, I don’t wish to elaborate further into the deaths of children here.
TikTok has told the Washington Post that the platform has already blocked users from searching for this challenge, instead displaying a warning screen informing users that “some online challenges can be dangerous, disturbing, or even fabricated”.
This entire horrible mess can all be linked back to the way TikTok and other social media platforms take advantage of their younger, more easily encouraged audience. TikTok has already been fined $5.7 million in 2019 for illegally collecting children’s data and allowing children under the age of 13 to sign up for the service without providing parental permission.
This story and countless others have now pointed to the internet in its current state not being a safe space for children, so without being too preachy – if you are a parent or guardian, please do your best to know what your children are doing online so we can hopefully prevent more tragedies like this. We will return to our regularly scheduled sarcastic tech-news momentarily.