The latest TikTok viral fad has prompted wrongful death lawsuits against one of the world’s most popular social media platforms.
“Eight-year-old Lalani Erika Walton wanted to become ‘TikTok famous.’ Instead, she wound up dead….The company’s app fed both Lalani and Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, 9, videos associated with a viral trend called the blackout challenge in which participants attempt to choke themselves into unconsciousness, the cases allege; both of the young girls died after trying to join in,” the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday about these tragic circumstances.
“Lalani and Arriani are not the first children to die while attempting the blackout challenge,” the news outlet added.
The Social Media Victims Law Center, which describes itself as working “to hold social media companies legally accountable for the harm they inflict on vulnerable users,” reportedly filed both cases against TikTok and ByteDance, its China-based parent company, on behalf of the families in Los Angeles Superior Court.
“TikTok pushed Lalani and Arriani videos of the dangerous trend, is engineered to be addictive and didn’t offer the girls or their parents adequate safety features, the Law Center says, all in the name of maximizing ad revenue,” the Times noted.
The lawsuit is reportedly framed in the context of product liability, i.e., legal responsibility for an “unreasonable dangerous” or defective product, rather than having to grapple with overcoming the Section 230 exemption of the Communications Decency Act that typically shields social media entities from lawsuits.
“TikTok is at fault for developing an algorithmically curated social media product that exposed Lalani and Arriani to a dangerous trend, the theory goes — a consumer safety argument that’s much less contentious than the thorny questions about free speech and censorship that might arise were the suit to frame TikTok’s missteps as those of a publisher,” the Times explained.
TikTok community guidelines “prohibit dangerous challenges.” TikTok, which maintains its U.S. headquarters in the L.A. area, is reportedly overtaking Facebook in user engagement.
Social Media Victims Law Center founder Matthew Bergman claimed that the social media industry “makes the asbestos industry look like a bunch of choirboys.”
“The blackout challenge is far from the first dangerous game to go viral on social media in recent years. On TikTok and other platforms, users have been encouraged to eat Tide Pods and gulp down cinnamon. Other dangerous stunts have included the ‘OrbeezChallenge’ the ‘Benadryl challenge,’ and the ‘skull breaker challenge,’ the New York Post recalled.
Separately, an FCC commissioner appointed by President Trump, in the name of national security and privacy, wrote a letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google to request they remove the TikTok app from their stores because the CCP is allegedly accessing user data.
“TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance – an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by Chinese law to comply with the PRC’s surveillance demands,” Commissioner Brendan Carr claimed.
FCC commissioner requests TikTok be removed from app stores for ‘surreptitious data practices’ https://t.co/uEHNZ7Vqd6 pic.twitter.com/EtImVOO2OE
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 29, 2022
In response to a letter from nine Republican U.S. senators about related security concerns, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew admitted in a June 30 response that China-based employees, “can have access to TikTok US user data subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team.”
The letter went on to claim that as part of an ongoing project, “we expect to delete US users protected data from our own systems and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the U.S.”
According to Reuters, “The Chinese government took a stake and a board seat in a key ByteDance entity in 2021.”
“The TikTok letter came nearly two years after a U.S. national security panel ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok because of fears that U.S. user data could be passed on to China’s communist government. That order was not enforced after Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump as U.S. president last year,” Reuters noted about an all-too-familiar pattern from globalist Democrats.
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