Parents Whose Son Committed Suicide Admonish TikTok’s Lack of Safety
By Movieguide® Contributor
Parents who lost their son to suicide admonished the CEO of TikTok for the platform’s lack of safety features and the inaction against disturbing content during congressional hearings last week.
Dean and Michelle Nasca lost their 16-year-old son Chase to suicide after he watched thousands of unsolicited violent and suicidal TikToks. The couple appeared before congress last week to recount their son’s death and the culpability TikTok has in the matter.
“Your company destroyed their lives,” Representative Gus Bilirankis told TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about the teenager’s parents. “His ‘For You’ page was sadly a window to discover suicide. It’s unacceptable, sir!”
While Chew responded about the company’s efforts to increase user safety, his answers seemed little more than lip service.
“[Chew’s] not concerned with anything of dealing with this,” Dean Nasca said. “His concern is with China. This doesn’t scare him. China scares him, so he’s not going to modify his behavior because there isn’t really a threat here.”
“I heard him say, ‘We’re very serious about safety,’ it must have been about 30 times,” Nasca continued. “But he hasn’t offered a single piece of what they plan to do to correct this.”
Along with testifying before congress, the couple has filed a lawsuit against TikTok and its parent company ByteDance to make change and seek justice for their son.
“I didn’t understand or I wasn’t aware that there was this much of it going on,” Michelle Nasca said after the hearing. “I certainly have my own personal experience with it, what happened to our son. I wasn’t aware that it is as broad as it is across the country.”
Their lawsuit was filed earlier this month in the Suffolk County Supreme Court alleging their son was “targeted, overwhelmed, and actively goaded” into committing suicide.
“The TikTok defendant know that violent, dangerous, extreme and psychologically disturbing content triggers a greater dopamine response in minors than safe and benign content,” the 91-page lawsuit said.
“To maximize user engagement and increase profits, TikTok creates and co-creates such content and deliberately targets children in the United States with violent, dangerous, extreme and psychologically disturbing content from which they can’t look away,” the complaint continued.
Chase did not intentionally seek out violent or suicidal content yet was bombarded by multiple hours of it anyway. The constant stream of disturbing content tragically led him to take his own life.
Concern over child safety is just one of the reasons congress is weighing a potential TikTok ban nationwide. Already the app is banned from governmental devices due to national security concerns and the current congressional hearings will determine how far the ban will extend.
Movieguide® previously reported on the life-threatening danger TikTok presents to users:
In April 2022, 12-year-old Archie Battersbee became another victim of the popular social media challenge on TikTok called the “blackout challenge.”
Battersbee’s mother found her 12-year-old son unconscious after he took part in the dangerous challenge. Archie, who was on life support since April, recently died according to The Independent.
Archie’s parents, like many others, filed a lawsuit against TikTok for their negligent business practices which put children in harm’s way.
The challenge grew in popularity on TikTok, the most popular social media platform today, with one billion active users worldwide.
The platform, owned by Bytedance, is not stranger to lawsuits from parents who have had children die after attempting the challenge.
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