“This is not easy, to wake up every day and know that your little girl is never coming back,” Arriani’s mother Christal Arroyo Roman told “Good Morning America” on Saturday.
“You’re never gonna hear her voice, you’re never gonna see her smile or hear her say ‘I love you.’”
Arriani was everything to her family. Chirstal said she was an intelligent and stylish little diva who loved doing nails and dancing, and would give the coat off her back to those she loved. And like many other kids, she had fun following social media trends, including food challenges and learning new dances.
“We just never thought that there was a darker side to what TikTok allows on its platform,” Roman said.
Now, the Arroyos and Walton’s families are calling on TikTok for answers. The Arroyos informed ABC News the families are speaking out in hopes of preventing other children from similar tragedies.
“We just want people to be aware, because we don’t want no other children out there to be a statistic of this situation again,” Arriani’s father Heriberto Arroyo Roman said. “We want to make sure that we can save other kids.”
According to the June 30 lawsuit filed by the Social Media Victims Law Center on behalf of the families, multiple children from different states and countries died last year by asphyxiation after attempting the same “blackout challenge” — in which children choke themselves until they pass out — allegedly suggested to them on their TikTok “For You” pages.
The lawsuit claims that “at all times relevant, TikTok’s algorithm was designed to promote ‘TikTok Challenges’ to young users to increase their engagement and maximize TikTok’s profits.”
It also claims the company was aware that some of the challenges allegedly being promoted to young people could be deadly, but that it did not act to correct the problem.
“TikTok outrageously took no and/or completely inadequate action to extinguish and prevent the spread of the Blackout Challenge and specifically to prevent its algorithm from directing children to the Blackout Challenge, despite notice and/or foreseeability that such a failure would inevitably lead to more injuries and deaths, including those of children,” the lawsuit reads.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, different versions of the challenge (sometimes referred to as the “choking game”) have existed for years and predate social media. However, the lawsuit claims TikTok’s endless timeline algorithm has exposed children to those trends with deadly results.
The founder of the Social Media Victims Law Center and the lead attorney on the case, Matthew Bergman, told ABC News that the lawsuit is focused on TikTok’s concerns for profitability, allegedly without regard for the harmful effects, its engineering may have on the platform’s youngest users.