Milwaukee parents sue TikTok after death of 9-year-old doing the 'Blackout Challenge'
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A couple from Milwaukee filed a lawsuit against TikTok on Friday, July 1 in L.A. after their daughter, 9-year-old Arriani Arroyo, died doing the "Blackout Challenge."
Matt Berman of Social Media Victims Loss Center is representing the Arroyo family and the Walton family from Texas who lost their 8-year-old while they say she was attempting the challenge.
"It’s the contention of the family that TikTok knew, or should’ve known, that its algorithm was leading children down this horrible path and didn't do anything about it because their goal was to maximize user engagement over above having a safe product," said Berman.
Arroyo is described as a vivacious, effervescent child with the dreams of being in the entertainment industry.
Berman said her parents are challenging TikTok to get rid of their algorithms, which the parents said intentionally led to their child's death.
"They have specifically designed the algorithms designed to take advantage of the fact that children's brains aren't fully developed and they're highly susceptible to addictive content," said Berman.
Behavioral therapist Melissa Waldo of Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers said social media is consumed faster by younger children, making it more dangerous.
"When we're talking about younger children, there's even more impact in the sense that there's less judgement, or there's less ability to make good judgement at younger ages and being even more impressionable," said Waldo.
It's a danger she said parents need to be aware of. She suggests parents encourage less time on social media and more face-to-face interactions.
TikTok said they cannot comment on ongoing litigations but referred CBS 58 to a previous statement made in December:
“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.” - TikTok Spokesperson