Italy took this decision just after the announcement of the death of a 10-year-old girl,
asphyxiated while participating in the “scarf game” on the social network.
On Friday, January 22, Italy announced that it had blocked access to Tiktok for all users who cannot prove they are under the minimum age to use the application. This is the first time a country has taken this kind of measure.
The decision comes just hours after a 10-year-old girl was found asphyxiated at her home in Palermo, Sicily, while she was participating in a “scarf game” challenge by filming herself with her cell phone for broadcast on TikTok. The registration of this girl on the network, very popular among teenagers, “was not refused by the company” despite her young age, which is “below the minimum 13 years required by the platform”, stressed the Data Protection Authority.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Palermo has indicated that it has opened an investigation for “incitement to suicide”. The girl’s cell phone was seized by the investigators, who will have to determine if Antonella was live with other participants, if someone had invited her to take up this challenge or if she was making this video for a friend.
The “scarf game”, which involves blocking or cutting off one’s breath until fainting in order to experience thrills, causes accidents every year.
Tiktok issued a statement saying that: “the safety of the TikTok community was its top priority and that the enforcement was at the disposal of the authorities to collaborate and advance the investigation”. More and more countries are questioning the role of TikTok on many levels. Whether it is at the level of managing their data and spying on China, but also of their flexibility on the contents proposed on the application.
In 2019, Buzzfeed had already done an article on sexual predators who used this network to approach their prey.
Last week, the French program “complement d’enquete” made a report on TikTok. In this program they questioned about the data protection of the application but also about the influence it has on the young generation. Even if tiktok says that its data is stored in every sub-branch of the company, i.e. in Europe for France for example, we have no proof that all this information is true and does not go directly to China. And every time journalists are interested and question the Chinese firm, the latter declines any interview and does not communicate.
Do we have to take the Chinese application at its word, when more and more voices are raised against it?