(Bloomberg) -- For every relatively harmless viral moment on TikTok—from corn kid to butter boards—there are more dangerous ones. Like teens climbing teetering milk crates, sticking pennies in light sockets or cooking chicken in Vicks NyQuil. 

Some of them are even deadly. A new investigation by Bloomberg shows dozens of kids have died attempting the “blackout challenge,” where users are instructed how to choke themselves in pursuit of an adrenaline rush. Many of the TikTok users who tried it and died were too young to even be on the app in the first place. 

TikTok’s rise coincided with the beginning of the pandemic, as children and families stuck indoors scrolled endlessly through its short videos. Virtually overnight, ByteDance’s social media platform became the world’s biggest app. With its ascendance, however, has come dangerous viral content that—despite what the company says is a concerted effort to erase it—keeps landing in front of young children.

On this episode of Storylines, Bloomberg explores how kids have scrambled to get on the adult version TikTok, sometimes with fatal results. Nine-year-old Arriani Arroyo died trying the “blackout challenge,” and her family has sued the company alleging its liable for her death. The company’s algorithm, they allege, sent the video to their daughter. It’s one of many lawsuits alleging wrongful death under similar circumstances, litigation that may test the limits of federal protections for platforms like TikTok that generally avoid liability for content posted by its users. 


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