“Children of primary school age don’t have the knowledge or understanding to realize that these are dangerous things to do,” she said.
One of the girls named in the lawsuit, Lalani Erika Walton, 8, of Temple, Texas, was described in the suit as a sweet and outgoing child who loved dressing up as a princess and playing with makeup. She wanted to be a famous rapper like Cardi B.
She got her first cell phone on her 8th birthday on April 23, 2021 and quickly became “addicted” to TikTok, where she sings and dances videos of herself in hopes of becoming “TikTok famous,” the suit says.
After Lalani was seriously injured in a car accident that killed one of her stepbrothers, she went to live with her stepmother. Unbeknownst to her mother or stepmother, TikTok’s algorithm “steered” Lalani to the blackout challenge in July 2021, the lawsuit says.
Lalani had bruises on her neck on July 13, 2021 and told her family she had fallen and bumped into her bed frame, the suit says. Shortly after, she spent part, if not most, of a 20-hour car ride with her stepmother, sitting in the back seat, watching the blackout challenge, the suit says.
On July 15, 2021, Lalani was found with a rope around her neck, says in the suit.
After her death, police confiscated Lalani’s phone and tablet and told her stepmother that “Lalani did not commit suicide,” the lawsuit states. A police officer showed the videos of the blackout challenge to the stepmother and said Lalani had watched the video repeatedly and attempted the challenge herself, the suit says.