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TikTok choking video incites suicide, says Italian police

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Italian police on Thursday accused a Sicilian woman of “inciting suicide” for a choking video she posted on TikTok, a week after a child accidentally died in a blackout challenge.

Police said the video, posted without restrictions on the social media platform by the 48-year-old Sicilian “influencer”, was “extremely dangerous” and able to be viewed by everyone, including children.

The video depicts a challenge between the woman and a man “in which both wrapped their faces, including nostrils and mouth, with transparent adhesive tape, so that they could not breathe”, police said in a statement, adding that the video had been taken down.

Italian investigators have been probing TikTok, a video-sharing network owned by Chinese company ByteDance, since the death last week of a 10-year-old girl who allegedly participated in such a “choking game”, in which restricted oxygen to the brain induces a high.

Italy’s privacy watchdog temporarily blocked TikTok access for users whose age could not be proved definitively.

Police on Thursday did not specify whether the video in question had been viewed by the girl, but noted that it and similar ones “could be emulated by minors”.

The woman who posted the video had published numerous other similar challenges, “which allowed her to gain popularity and the attention of 731,000 followers of different ages”.

Viewers were allowed to accept the challenge, police said, citing one post in which a user wrote “if you say hi to me I swear I’ll jump out the window”.

Prosecutors authorised a search of the woman’s computer and social network accounts.

According to TikTok’s terms and conditions, users must be at least 13 years old.

Italy’s data regulators said Wednesday they were also looking into how minors accessed Facebook and Instagram.

The watchdog filed a legal case in December against TikTok alleging a “lack of attention to the protection of minors”, criticising the ease with which very young children could sign up.


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