The family of a 10-year-old girl who died after attempting a social media trend has filed a lawsuit against TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance.
In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Tawainna Anderson says she found her daughter, Nylah, unconscious in their home on Dec. 7 after she allegedly tried the “Blackout Challenge,” which dangerously dares participants to hold their breath until they pass out from a lack of oxygen.
The young girl was taken to a local hospital but died of her injuries five days later, according to the suit, which was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Thursday.
Anderson claims her daughter came across the challenge while using TikTok, the popular social media network where users watch and share videos. The suit claims Nylah was likely exposed to the challenge on the platform’s “For You Page,” which uses an algorithm to show users content based on their interests.
“The TikTok Defendants’ 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,” the lawsuit claims.
Anderson says her daughter “was an active, happy, healthy, and incredibly intelligent child” who spoke three languages.
The mom is suing for multiple damages, including wrongful death and negligence.
When reached by PEOPLE, representatives for TikTok said they were remaining “vigilant” toward any unsafe content that users could see.
“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,” a spokesperson said. “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,” they added.
The “Blackout Challenge” — sometimes referred to as the “Choking Challenge” or “Pass-Out Challenge”— predates most modern-day social networking sites and can be traced back to at least 2008, when 82 youths died as a result of the game, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In 2021, at least three other children — Joshua Haileyesus, 12, and Robert Craig, 10, and LaTerius Smith Jr., 9 — reportedly died after attempting the game.
Anderson’s suit claims that TikTok had “both constructive and actual knowledge” that their app and algorithm resulted “in dangerous videos being shown to users, including children, and that the app and algorithm were encouraging users to engage in risky and dangerous activities” that could cause them harm or death.
In September, TikTok revealed more than 1 billion people around the worlduse its app each month.
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