Italy takes action against Tiktok after the death of a ten-year-old
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Italy regulates the Chinese video app Tiktok more strictly. The occasion is the death of ten year old Antonella. She is said to have choked herself unconscious with a belt in a so-called challenge.
NAfter the death of a ten-year-old in a so-called “Blackout Challenge” on the Tiktok video platform, Italy blocked access to Tiktok for users whose age has not been proven beyond doubt. This step will initially apply until February 15, the data protection authority said on Friday evening.
The decision stipulates that the Chinese video platform will no longer be allowed to set up an account for users who cannot prove their age. A few hours earlier, the death of a ten-year-old from Palermo, Sicily, had become known, who had taken part in the “Blackout Challenge” on Tiktok, the aim of which was to cut off your breath for as long as possible.
Although Tiktok stipulates a minimum age of 13 years for its users, the company did not refuse the child’s membership, emphasized the data protection authority.
The death of the ten-year-old causes sadness and heated debates in Italy. Little Antonella had locked herself in the bathroom on Wednesday and filmed herself on her cell phone while she was tightening her breath with the bathrobe belt. After a sister discovered the girl, the family rushed her to the hospital Wednesday night. There the doctors fought, but then had to determine brain death, as a spokeswoman for the Di Cristina Hospital confirmed on Friday.
Antonella’s parents told the newspaper “La Repubblica” that another sister of the ten-year-old had told them that Antonella had played the “game of suffocation”. “We had no idea about it,” said the father. He assumed that his daughter was watching dance choreographies and other videos on Tiktok. “My daughter, my little Antonella is dying of an extreme game on Tiktok: How can I cope with it?” Complained the father.
In a so-called “Blackout Challenge”, participants strangle themselves and film it with their smartphone. The pictures show them in social networks. The police are investigating Antonella’s cell phone, “La Repubblica” wrote on. According to the information, the parents agreed to an organ donation by their daughter.
A TikTok spokesman said, according to the Adnkronos news agency: “We are ready for the relevant authorities to help with the investigation.” The company is trying to stop calls for life-threatening behavior. Palermo’s mayor, Leoluca Orlando, wrote on Facebook that he and probably the whole city were “in shock”. A debate about young people’s relationships with smartphones and social networks is long overdue – “especially in times of the pandemic, which has pushed us more and more into digital communication”.
In the media, psychologists and youth experts called on Friday to consider tightening the law on how children use cell phones and social networks. There have been challenges online and in many countries for years. The challenges are sometimes fun, sometimes extremely dangerous.