What is Blackout Challenge? TikToker accused of inciting suicide after girl, 10, dies attempting 'deadly' trend
Italian police have accused a TikTok user of inciting suicide after a video of hers showed her covering her nose and mouth with sticky tape as part of trend called 'blackout challenge'. The social media influencer is said to be a 48-year-old woman from Sicily, who allegedly posted the “deadly” video on TikTok that showed her face, including her mouth and nose covered in sticky tape. The Daily Mail reported the police saying the video had no warning messages or any restrictions, a very dangerous for kids. Reports also stated that the “extremely dangerous” video was posted online a week after a ten-year-old girl in Palermo died while she was apparently attempting the “blackout challenge”. Italian news agency ANSA reported that the girl had tied a belt around her neck and accidentally taken her own life while attempting the challenge in Palermo on January 21. Police haven't clarified whether the girl had seen the video.
Police issued a statement that mentioned how a woman and a man participated in a challenge “in which both wrapped their faces, including nostrils and mouth, with transparent adhesive tape, so that they could not breathe”. They also stated in the statement that the video in question has now been taken down from the platform. TikTok is under investigation by the Italian authorities after the death of the minor girl, who allegedly took part in the “choking game”.
In addition, access of the users -- whose age could not be proved definitively -- has temporarily been suspended by Italy's privacy watchdog, which accused TikTok of a “lack of attention to the protection of minors” in December.
The blackout challenge dares participants to choke themselves until they lose consciousness - something that medical professionals have warned against as it can lead to fainting, brain damage, seizures and even death. The game, which has currently gained traction on TikTok, has actually been around for years and is sometimes known as the "Passout Challenge", "The Game of Choking", "Speed Dreaming" or "The Fainting Game".
It has been reported that the woman who published the “life-taking” challenge had also shared a number of similar challenges, “which allowed her to gain popularity and the attention of 731,000 followers of different ages”. Police said that the videos allegedly encouraged viewers to imitate the challenges. They gave an example of a user who allegedly commented on one of the videos, saying, “If you say hi to me I swear I'll jump out the window”. A search warrant for the woman's computer and social network accounts have been obtained.
Meanwhile, a TikTok spokesperson said, “Our deepest sympathies are with the girl's family and friends. We do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies dangerous behavior that might lead to injury, and our teams work diligently to identify and remove content that violates our policies. While we have not currently found evidence of content on our platform that might have encouraged such an incident off-platform, we will continue to monitor closely as part of our continuous commitment to keep our community safe. We will also assist the relevant authorities with their investigation as appropriate.”
In another incident, a TikTok showed the tragic final moments of a teenage girl before she was shot dead inside an Atlanta hotel room in December 2020. Reports stated that the 16-year-old Kalecia Williams was shot dead at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta on Peachtree Street at around 12.27 am on December 26 last year. The social media video captured her dancing before someone entered the room, leaving her shocked. The victim’s mother, April Smith, held a rally outside the Regency recently. She talked to Fox 5 and said the video was made around 12.02 am. "What happened after she made that last Tik Tok video at 12.02 am and she was dead at 12.23 am? I need answers," she added.