Pennsylvania mom sues TikTok for role in daughter's 'blackout challenge' death

By Ashley Williams

May 13 (UPI) -- A mother in Delaware County, Pa., is suing social media company TikTok after losing her daughter last year to a TikTok challenge requiring participants to hold their breath until they faint.

Tawainna Anderson and her legal team filed the lawsuit on Thursday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


Anderson told CBS News Philadelphia that she wants to hold TikTok accountable for its role in the death of her 10-year-old daughter, Nylah.

The mother discovered the child unconscious in her bedroom in the family's Chester, Pa., home on Dec. 7, 2021, after Anderson said she performed the blackout challenge.

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Nylah died five days later on Dec. 12, 2021, after falling unconscious.

"It is time that these dangerous challenges come to an end, that other families don't experience the heartbreak we live every day," Anderson told CBS News Philadelphia.

The lawsuit alleges that a "defective design" in TikTok's algorithm exposed Anderson's young daughter to the challenge via her TikTok For You page, NBC News reported.

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"We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found," TikTok said in a statement, according to NBC News. "Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss."


The blackout challenge has existed for decades across several platforms and under different names, including the passout challenge, the choking game and the fainting game.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that between 1995 and 2007, at least 82 children had died as a result of the game.

In March 2021, a 12-year-old Colorado boy played the blackout challenge on TikTok and died after spending three weeks on life support.

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