ROME: Italian prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the accidental death of a 10-year-old girl who allegedly took part in a “blackout challenge” on the video-sharing network TikTok.
The girl died in a Palermo hospital after being discovered on Wednesday by her five-year-old sister with her cell phone, which was seized by police.
TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said on Friday 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 said.
Medical experts have warned about the danger of the challenge being taken up by some young people, 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 a newspaper another daughter 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.
Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2021