An investigation in Italy aims to determine the death of a 10-year-old child from asphyxiation. Fatality brings up the debate about the protection of minors and the regulation of social networks, since the patient was caused during the realization of a challenge promoted by users from TikTok.
The incident occurred on Wednesday (20), when the girl Antonella went to the bathroom at home to record the “blackout challenge”. The activity consists of putting a belt or scarf around your neck and holding your breath for as long as possible.
One of the child's younger sisters found her unconscious. Her parents took Antonella to the Di Cristina pediatric hospital in Palermo, but she fell into a coma and did not survive.
In a statement to the the Republic, father Angelo Sicomero said that he and his wife did not know that the girl participated in this game. "I knew she used TikTok to do choreography, to watch videos, but how could I imagine this atrocity?", He ponders.
The Italian Public Ministry investigates the possibility of “inciting suicide” on the social network. The detectives have seized Antonella's cell phone and want to find out if anyone has encouraged her to take the challenge.
Protection of minors on social networks
In a note, TikTok states that "the safety of the TikTok community is our absolute priority and we are at the disposal of the competent authorities to collaborate with the investigation". Antonella's death increased discussions on topics such as the regulation of social networks in Italy. Licia Rozulli, chairman of a child protection commission, says that "social networks cannot become a jungle where everything is allowed".
It is not the first time that TikTok has been investigated in Italy. In 2019, the social network was sued for “lack of attention to the protection of minors” and “ease of circumventing the prohibition on enrolling children” on the platform.