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Italy blocked TikTok after a 10-year-old girl died doing a “blackout challenge”

The ban will be in place until at least February 15.

Tiktok on iphone 11
Image: KnowTechie

The Italian Data Protection Authority has placed a ban on TikTok due to death of a 10-year-old girl who took part in a blackout challenge.

On January 21st, a 10-year-old girl was brought to the Palermo hospital, where she was pronounced brain dead. Doctors said they did everything they could. However, the girl was too far gone, and there wasn’t anything more to be done.

According to the parents, the girl took part in a self-asphyxiation TikTok challenge. This challenge resulted in her choking on a belt she had tied around her neck.

They claimed that they had no knowledge of this before the tragic event, and they learned about it only after their other daughter told them that her sister was doing something called a blackout challenge. The parents said that they thought TikTok was only used for dancing and making videos. 

The self-asphyxiation TikTok challenge had been circulating on TikTok for some time and is known as the Blackout Challenge

Soon after the tragic event, the Italian prosecutors opened a case to discover all the circumstances leading to the death of the 10-years old girl. 

In the meantime, Italy’s watchdog, the Italian Data Protection Authority, has placed a ban on TikTok. TikTok won’t be available in Italy until February 15. 

ByteDance, the company that owns Tiktok, needs to prove that it can block unverified users if they hope to have the ban lifted. TikTok’s policy is that only those aged 13 and older can use their platform. Now, they need to demonstrate to the Italian authorities that their verification process works well. Otherwise, the ban will remain in place after February 15th. 

TikTok’s representatives said that they would cooperate with the investigators and were ready to provide any assistance needed. Furthermore, they said they conducted an investigation and didn’t find any content that might have spurred the girl to take the challenge. 

This is not the first time TikTok has been brought to the stand for not doing enough to protect minors on its platform.

Tiktok has introduced a set of privacy controls for its youngest users. However, children’s privacy advocacy groups still claim that more needs to be done to protect the youngest ones. Under the latest policy changes, TikTok allowed parents to control their kid’s privacy settings. Also, there is a limit on who can see videos posted by children aged between 13 and 15.

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