TEMPLE, Texas — The families of two girls, 8 and 9, are filing wrongful death lawsuits against the social media giant "TikTok" after they both died from trying to participate in a challenge, according to the lawsuit.
One of the girls, Lalani Erika Walton, 8, was from Temple and the other girl, Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, 9, was from Milwaukee.
The lawsuits, which were filed in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, both allege that both girls died from self-strangulation after they tried to partake in the TikTok challenge, "Blackout Challenge," which reportedly encourages its users to choke themselves with items like belts, ropes and purse strings until they pass out.
The lawsuit highlights TikTok's algorithm saying it "intentionally and repeatedly" displayed the "Blackout Challenge" onto both girls' "For You Page... incentivizing them to participate in the challenge that ultimately took their lives."
“TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls,” said attorney Matthew P. Bergman in a news release. “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.”
6 News attempted to contact Bergman but did not get a response.
Walton died on July 15, 2021, according to the lawsuit. Prior to her death, Walton returned home from a roadtrip with her stepmother and was told to clean her room before they went to the pool. Her stepmother woke up from an hour nap and found Walton's door closed. When she opened it, she found Walton's body, got help from a neighbor to get her down and called police.
Authorities determined she died from self-asphyxiation "as a direct result of attempting TikTok's 'Blackout Challenge,' the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also says her death wasn't intentional because the girl "had laid out her bathing suit in anticipation of going swimming."
Arroyo died in a similar fashion on Feb. 26, just a few months before Walton, the lawsuit says.
6 News reached out to TikTok for a response. We are waiting to hear back.
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