Police said a child died from a 'blackout challenge' found on TikTok, but the dangerous 'game' has circulated for years
- Police attributed a child's death to a
TikTokchallenge after a preliminary investigation.
- Other deaths have been linked to the challenge, though users are unable to search for it on TikTok.
- But similar asphyxiation challenges predate TikTok and modern
Following a preliminary investigation, detectives said they believed the death of a child Tuesday morning in Bethany, Oklahoma, followed his participation in a "
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It's unclear whether the Oklahoma child had a TikTok account or actively used the platform. A spokesperson for the BDP told Insider that the department could not provide information on the child, but said that investigators were looking into information from family and friends regarding his TikTok presence.TikTok's search guardrails do make it difficult to find content related to the challenge and Insider could not find evidence that the challenge has recently been trending on the app.
The 'blackout challenge' did not originate from TikTok
As Insider previously reported, the dangerous challenge can give people a high, but it's recently been linked to the deaths of a 10-year-old in Italy in January and a nine-year-old in Tennessee in June.Asphyxiation challenges, sometimes called the "choking game," predate TikTok and even social media. While they previously spread by word-of-mouth, Time Magazine reported in 2018 that online platforms made information about them more accessible, which may have led more children to try it alone rather than with friends. A 2008 CDC study identified 82 "probable choking-game deaths" between youths ages 6-19 from 1995-2007.
TikTok, which in the public consciousness has become synonymous with youth and Gen Z
The challenge does not appear to be popular on TikTok
TikTok told Insider in a statement that the platform blocks "related hashtags and searches to discourage people from participating in or sharing potentially dangerous content."Searching the term "blackout challenge" on TikTok yields a "no results found" result and a warning that the phrase could be associated with behavior that violates TikTok's community guidelines, which prohibit content that "depicts, promotes, normalizes, or glorifies ... amateur stunts or dangerous challenges."
By searching for the terms with typos, Insider found several videos cautioning against participation or discussing the challenge, as well as alcohol-related content.
Still, TikTok has struggled in the past to remove dangerous challenges from the app.Insider previously reported that a hashtag for the "nutmeg challenge," which had people ingesting dangerous amounts of the spice, had over 46 million views at one point. TikTok said at the time that it was actively removing videos tied to the challenge and the hashtag has since become unavailable.
Hoax challenges that supposedly threaten children but really just stoke paranoia have spread online as well. In 2019, both the "Momo" and "Blue Whale" challenges generated panic online for supposedly encouraging children to take their own life, but as The Atlantic reported at the time, both were ultimately hoaxes that relied on a cycle of local
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