TikTok blocked in Italy after 10-year-old girl dies in 'blackout challenge'

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TikTok logo (Image credit: TikTok)

What you need to know

  • TikTok has been blocked for young users in Italy following the tragic death of a young girl taking part in a "blackout challenge".
  • The 10-year-old died in a Palermo hospital, after being found to have strangled herself.

Access to TikTok in Italy has been blocked for users who cannot definitely prove their age following the tragic death of a young girl taking part in a "blackout challenge".

The girl's death, first reported by ANSA took place on Thursday. From the report:

A 10-year-old Italian girl was declared brain dead by a Palermo hospital Thursday after taking the Blackout Challenge on TikTok. Her parents have OK'd donating the organs of the girl, who tied a belt around her throat to self-asphyxiate in the challenge on the popular social-media platform.

According to The Guardian, Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation, and Italy has temporarily blocked access to TikTok for users "whose age could not be proved definitively." TikTok reportedly stated that it had not found any content on its site that might have encouraged the girl to take part in the challenge, but was helping the authorities probe the incident.

A spokesperson said:

"The safety of the TikTok community is our absolute priority, for this motive we do not allow any content that encourages, promotes or glorifies behavior that could be dangerous"

The report notes that the Italian Data Protection Authority had blocked TikTok until February 15 with immediate effect until regulator's demands had been met. The challenge referred to was also reportedly known as "scarfing" or "the choking game", and involved participants restricting oxygen to their brain to get high. the girl's parents told La Repubblica that they knew nothing of the game and that they only knew their daughter went on TikTok for dances, and to look at videos. Another daughter had reportedly explained her sister was playing in the game.

The news has prompted an outcry in Italy for better regulation of social media platforms.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9