The families are suing the company and saying that it is not safe for users.
A family in Wisconsin is suing TikTok after their 9-year-old daughter died while undertaking the famous social media "blackout challenge."
On February 26, 2021, Arriani Jaileen Arroyo died of asphyxiation. Her family, together with the parents of 8-year-old Lalani Walton of Texas, who died of asphyxiation by strangulation on July 15, 2021, have joined forces with the Social Media Victims Law Center to sue TikTok on their daughters' behalf.
Arriani's mother Christal Arroyo Roman told Good Morning America, "This is not easy, to wake up every day and know that your little girl is never coming back. You're never gonna hear her voice, you're never gonna see her smile or hear her say 'I love you.'"
US — A family is suing TikTok after their 9-year-old daughter died doing a "Blackout" challenge on the app.— Women's Voices (@WomenReadWomen) July 19, 2022
Arriani Arroyo is one of several children whose deaths can be traced to the social media platform, though TikTok has denied the challenge exists.https://t.co/2EpND4XdhU pic.twitter.com/iskCZkvCr9
Arriani meant the world to her family. Her mother described her as a smart and fashionable young diva who enjoyed painting nails, dancing and helping people. She, like many other youngsters in the country, loved following social media trends such as food challenges and learning new dance steps. Roman said, "We just never thought that there was a darker side to what TikTok allows on its platform."
Arriani downloaded TikTok and began posting videos of herself dancing and singing like many other TikTok users do. SMVLC said in a news release, "Because many of these Tik Tok challenges involved eating and dancing, Arriani’s parents did not regard them as dangerous." Arriani's brother informed their father, Heriberto, who was at the time working in the basement. Heriberto dialed 911 after discovering his daughter unresponsive.
Parents Sue TikTok After Daughters Die Doing 'Blackout Challenge': 'We Want People to Be Aware' https://t.co/bFa61wzGL3— People (@people) July 22, 2022
Arriani's 5-year-old brother discovered her unconscious and hanging on a dog's leash that she looked to have attached to the entrance of her room. He informed their father, Heriberto, who was at the time working in the basement. Heriberto dialed 911 after discovering his daughter unresponsive. She was transported to a local children's hospital and placed on life support.
The news release said, "Testing revealed that Arriani had permanent, irreversible brain damage and complete loss of brain function, and her family made the difficult decision to withdraw life support."
Similarly, when Lalani Erika Renee Walton of Temple, Texas, was eight years old, she received her first smartphone. Lalani, like Arriani, downloaded TikTok and began sharing videos of herself singing and dancing. However, after returning home on a road trip on July 15, 2021, Lalani's stepmother, Rashika Watson, urged her to tidy her room while she relaxed from the trip, and then they would go swimming together, reports Fox 29.
Watson went to check on Lalani in her room after waking up after an hour-long snooze but was astonished to find the door closed. She went in and found her daughter hanging and immediately rushed her to the hospital. She died of self-asphyxiation due to the "blackout challenge."
TikTok, according to the complaint filed on behalf of the Arroyo and Lalani families, has a flawed design and is "an addictive product that is not safe for users." Matthew P. Bergman, founding attorney of SMVLC said, "TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls. 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."
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Reggie Casagrande