Italy Orders TikTok To Block Underage Users After Child Allegedly Dies Performing Challenge
Italy has ordered TikTok to block access to any users who cannot prove their age after a 10-year-old girl died allegedly taking part in a ‘blackout challenge’.
The young girl died in Palermo after she was found unresponsive in her bathroom by her five-year-old sister, with her mobile phone in hand.
Prosecutors in Palermo have opened an investigation into TikTok for ‘incitement to suicide’, after it was confirmed the child died by asphyxiation.
According to TikTok guidelines, no users below the age of 13 should be allowed to sign up to the app, prompting the Italian Data Protection Authority to order the site to block any users who cannot prove their age.
‘The Italian Data Protection Authority has ordered TikTok to immediately block the user data for which the age of the user has not been ascertained with certainty,’ the body said in a statement.
‘The authority decided to intervene as a matter of urgency following the terrible case of the 10-year-old girl from Palermo.’
It went on to say it would ‘block the social media network’ until February 15, by which time the app should have met the regulator’s demands.
On Friday, January 22, TikTok said it had been unable identify any content on its site that could have encouraged the child to participate in the so-called ‘blackout challenge’, but confirmed it was helping authorities with the investigation into potential ‘incitement to suicide’.
‘The safety of the TikTok community is our absolute priority, for this motive we do not allow any content that encourages, promotes or glorifies behaviour that could be dangerous,’ a spokesperson said, as per the Guardian.
Licia Ronzulli, president of Italy’s commission for childhood and adolescence, said the ban was ‘right and timely’ in a post on Twitter.
‘The safety of minors must be protected at all costs and we cannot, as happened in Palermo, allow a social media network to be an accomplice in a suicide,’ she wrote.
Investigations into the young girl’s death are ongoing.
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