Authorities Say No Evidence That 12-Year-Old Died From TikTok ‘Blackout Challenge’



  • Archie Battersbee died in August after a monthslong legal campaign by his parents.
  • His mom, Hollie Dance, said she believes he participated in the purported TikTok blackout challenge.
  • The Essex chief coroner said on Tuesday there was no evidence to support that claim.

British authorities announced this week that there is no evidence yet to support claims that a 12-year-old child died from engaging in the so-called “blackout challenge” or that TikTok played a role in the death. The boy’s mother, Hollie Dance, had previously requested an investigation into the platform and social media’s influence.

Archie Battersbee died in August after a monthslong legal battle in which his parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, tried to prevent the hospital from taking him off life support. Dance originally found Archie suspended unconscious after playing with a dressing gown cord in their Essex county home in April and brought him to the hospital, as Insider previously reported. 

Archie was kept on life support after doctors declared that he was brain dead in June, and died after being removed from ventilation in August. His parents appealed multiple court decisions to remove him from the ventilator but were ultimately unsuccessful. Dance called the doctors’ removal of Archie from life support a “choreographed execution” of her son, according to The New York Times.

Dance also believed TikTok was involved in her son’s death, according to The Guardian, and asked authorities to investigate the platform and make it an “interested party” in the case. She said that in the weeks up to his initial brain injury, Archie told her that he knew how to make himself pass out.

“He’d never caused me any alarm by putting anything around his neck or anything like that so this was a very new thing,” Dance said, according to The Guardian. “For him to all of a sudden start that at the age of 12 years old, he’s seen it somewhere and the only thing I can think of is TikTok.”

Hollie Dance stands with her ex-partner, Paul Battersbee, and other members of the family outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, England.

Hollie Battersbee, pictured with her ex partner, Paul Battersbee, and other close family members, took her legal fight to the top courts in the U.K

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But on Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for the case, Essex chief coroner Lincoln Brookes said there was no indication that Archie was participating in the so-called blackout challenge, The Guardian reported. Authorities determined that Archie did access TikTok on the day of the incident, but were unable to see what he viewed. Detective Inspector Sarah Weeks said in the hearing that photos and videos taken from Archie’s phone did not corroborate the idea that he was doing the trend, according to The Guardian. Brookes did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Authorities are reportedly preparing a report based on info from all of Archie’s electronics, including his phone, computer, and video game console, due in December. The full inquest will take place in the English city Chelmsford in February, according to the BBC.

TikTok has faced lawsuits for the “blackout challenge,” although it predates the app and isn’t trending on there

The “blackout challenge” — also often referred to as “choking” or “asphyxiation” games — dates back at least to the 1990s, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, two decades before TikTok was created. Despite little to no evidence showing the purported game has a connection to TikTok, news reports and parents have repeatedly called it a TikTok-specific challenge. A previous Insider investigation found no evidence that it was trending on the app, and the platform blocks search terms like “blackout challenge.”

Multiple sets of parents have previously sued TikTok, alleging the platform’s algorithms pushed videos of the blackout challenge onto their childrens’ feeds and inspired them to partake, leading to their deaths. 

A federal judge dismissed one wrongful death lawsuit in late October from a parent who said her 10-year-old daughter was discovered hanging unconscious after a video of the trend appeared on her For You page. In the case, the judge ruled that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protected TikTok from liability since the content would have been uploaded by a third party.



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