10-Year-Old Italian Girl Dies While Playing ‘Blackout Challenge’ on TikTok, Probe Underway

Doctors have warned about the danger of the blackout challenge being taken up by some youth and kids, who refer to it as "scarfing" or "the choking game" in which restricted oxygen to the brain results in a high.

Updated: January 23, 2021 1:35 AM IST

By India.com News Desk | Edited by Priyanka

TikTok Star Dies at 19 After Being Shot Inside Cinema Hall
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New Delhi: In a tragic incident, a 10-year-old girl, who allegedly took part in a “blackout challenge” on the video-sharing network TikTok, has died.

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Italian prosecutors have opened a probe into the accidental death of the girl, reported news agency AFP.

The girl died in a Palermo hospital after being discovered on Wednesday by her five-year-old sister in her family bathroom with her cellphone, which was seized by police.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said on Friday that it had not managed to identify any content on its site that could have encouraged the girl to participate in any such challenge, but was helping the authorities in the probe over possible “incitement to suicide”.

“The safety of the TikTok community is our absolute priority, for this motive we do not allow any content that encourages, promotes or glorifies behaviour that could be dangerous,” a TikTok spokesman was quoted as saying.

What is blackout challenge?

Doctors have warned about the danger of the blackout challenge being taken up by some youth and kids, who refer to it as “scarfing” or “the choking game” in which restricted oxygen to the brain results in a high.

The girls’ parents told La Republica newspaper that another daughter of theirs explained that her sister “was playing the blackout game”.

“We didn’t know anything,” the girl’s father told the paper.

“We didn’t know she was participating in this game. We knew that (our daughter) went on TikTok for dances, to look at videos. How could I imagine this atrocity?” he said.

Italy’s data protection agency filed a lawsuit against TikTok in December, alleging a “lack of attention to the protection of minors” and criticising the ease with which very young children could sign up to the video app.

TikTok, which went global in 2018, has built its rapid success on its parodies, messages and short dance or comedy video performances set against popular music — along with an algorithm that determines which content is most likely to interest each user.

The death of the girl has provoked strong reactions in Italy and calls for better regulation of social networks.

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Published Date: January 22, 2021 11:56 PM IST

Updated Date: January 23, 2021 1:35 AM IST