Posted On April 22, 2023 Personal Injury
April 22 – The social media company TikTok has been in the news recently surrounding concerns over multiple deaths resulting from teens participating in dangerous challenges they were exposed to on the platform. Parents who lost children as a result of dangerous TikTok challenges have called on the company to implement safeguards to protect their children; however, potentially deadly challenges continue to show up on teens’ feeds. Some of these include the Blackout Challenge, the Benadryl Challenge, the Dragon’s Breath Challenge and the Borg Challenge.
Recently, the conversation has shifted to whether TikTok bears any responsibility for deaths resulting from users’ participation in dangerous challenges. While this is a developing legal issue, families from across the country have already started filing TikTok challenge lawsuits and TikTok wrongful death claims based on the company’s alleged failure to prevent harmful content from being served to their children. Those who are interested in suing TikTok for the company’s role in a child’s injury or death should reach out to a TikTok challenge lawyer for immediate assistance. Give us a call at 866-778-5500 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation.
Like all social media platforms, a user’s popularity is based on the number of “likes” their content receives from others. Over the past few years, TikTok users have noticed that posting videos of themselves performing various challenges seems to engage the audience by encouraging them to repeat the challenge and post their own videos.
While the idea of TikTok challenge isn’t problematic on its face, the recent trend of deadly TikTok challenges has resulted in at least 20 teen deaths.
In April 2023, a 13-year-old boy died after attempting to record himself completing the Benadryl Challenge. Evidently, the teen was at home with a few friends when he ingested 14 pills of over-the-counter Benadryl. The idea behind the challenge is to induce a hallucinogenic effect by consuming a large amount of Benadryl, which is typically used as an allergy and cold medication.
The Benadryl challenge was first introduced on TikTok in 2020. That year, a 15-year-old girl from Oklahoma died after taking a lethal amount of the drug. Previously, a hospital in Texas reported that three young men were admitted for what appeared to be a Benadryl overdose. After later seeing a video of the three boys taking large amounts of Benadryl, they determined that the teens were attempting the Benadryl Challenge.
The Benadryl Challenge is far from the only dangerous challenge on TikTok. Other deadly challenges that have caused serious injury or death over the past few years include the following:
The Blackout Challenge, which also goes by the names the “Pass Out Challenge” and the “Choking Challenge,” involves choking oneself to induce temporary unconsciousness. The obvious problem with the challenge is that by depriving their brain of oxygen, children run the risk of causing permanent brain damage or death. The Blackout Challenge has resulted in over 100 confirmed deaths.
The Sleepy Chicken Challenge involves cooking chicken with the common cold medicine NyQuil. The trend surfaced along with claims that the bizarre recipe could cure colds. However, as the FDA later explained, cooking over-the-counter medicine can increase the potency of the drug and may change the chemical compound in other potentially dangerous ways.
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The Penny Challenge encourages users to insert a penny in a small gap created by leaving a wired device partially plugged into an outlet. The Penny Challenge presents a serious risk of burn injuries or electrocution and can also cause fires.
The Nutmeg Challenge and Cinnamon Challenge are two different but similar challenges, where users are encouraged to consume a large amount of the spice. While both nutmeg and cinnamon are completely safe for cooking, ingesting spoonfuls of the spices in a single sitting can cause organ damage and potential death.
TikTok is well aware that dangerous trends and challenges are being circulated throughout the platform, which is why the company employs 40,000 “safety professionals” to review posted content and flag dangerous videos for removal. Indeed, the TikTok Community Guidelines explain that “Most activities or challenges are appropriate for everyone and bring people together, but some carry a risk of significant injury. We do not allow showing or promoting dangerous activities and challenges. This includes dares, games, tricks, inappropriate use of dangerous tools, eating substances that are harmful to one’s health, or similar activities that may lead to significant physical harm.”
However, TikTok’s efforts at identifying and removing dangerous content are not always effective. For example, in response to the recent Benadryl Challenge death, TikTok responded that “[w]e have never seen this type of content trend on our platform.” It would seem that a challenge would take some time to turn into a trend and that TikTok would have ample time to discover the potential for injury before it reached millions of teens.
Whether TikTok is liable for any of the injuries or deaths stemming from challenges posted by other users is an open legal question. However, there is existing legal support for TikTok challenge lawsuits. Indeed, hundreds of families across the United States have filed TikTok challenge lawsuits, most of which have not yet reached a final resolution. Those interested in learning whether TikTok may be liable for their child’s injuries should reach out to a TikTok challenge lawyer for assistance.