A New Mexico lawsuit is one of six in the country targeting TikTok as a result of “blackout challenge” videos posted on the short-form video sharing platform.
A 13-year-old Socorro County boy mimicking the blackout challenge fatally hanged himself in his family’s bathroom in 2020, the lawsuit alleges. Filed in the 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, the suit contends TikTok is marketing “a dangerously defective product to millions of children” and seeks unspecified damages.
The lawsuits against TikTok have yet to be heard by a judge or jury. Perhaps verdicts or rulings in favor of the plaintiffs will bring about a sense of responsibility for what the platform allows to be posted. Until then, parents need to be aware of how dangerous these challenges can be.
TikTok has reported more than 3 billion downloads worldwide since it was launched outside China in 2017. Children are particularly vulnerable to taking the challenges and posting their own videos — with some serious consequences. Multiple news agencies have reported on the “One Chip Challenge,” which involves eating a product called “Paqui,” a single chip coated with super-hot spices. Clovis Municipal Schools recently sent out an email warning parents that “… more than 20 students in our district have required medical intervention after either ingesting or touching One Chip Challenge chips.”
Social media giants rarely regulate content; when they do, they run into free-speech concerns. Don’t expect Congress to ride to the rescue. No one can agree whose responsibility it is to protect society from stupid, harmful or controversial ideas. Parents need to have a clear idea of what their kids are watching and take steps to keep them safe.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.