The parents of a 15-year-old French girl who committed suicide in 2021 have denounced the video platform TikTok, blaming in particular its algorithm, which allegedly “locked up” the girl within her discomfort. The algorithm, one of the top-secret “recipes” of the Chinese platform, which manages to remain highly confidential despite European rules on transparency, is accused above all of having the ability to make users “addicted” to the service. The parents of Marie, 15, filed a complaint against the favorite social network for teenagers at the beginning of September, believing that TikTok’s “recommendations” system would have aggravated their daughter’s mental illness, pushing her to take her own life.
The couple’s lawyer, Laure Boutron-Marmion, interviewed by France-Info, declared that “through the algorithm, the teenager received (on his feed, ed.) bursts of videos on the same topic which can only lead someone to feel even worse.” Marie’s parents therefore developed the thesis that the Tik Tok algorithm generated an enormous amount of “negative” messages and content towards their daughter, given the input that came from Marie herself. Shortly before committing suicide, the teenager – a victim of bullying due to her being overweight, published a video in which she expressed her discomfort. According to the family and the lawyer, it is precisely from this video that the Tik Tok algorithm recommended other content regarding depression and harassment to Marie. The parents’ complaint alleges the crimes of “incitement to suicide”, “propaganda of tools to take one’s own life” and “failure to provide assistance”.
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