TikTok logoSource: 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.