TikTok UK Told By Child Prime Minister – ‘Do The Right Thing and Take Down Videos That Are Killing Young People’

TikTok UK Told By Child Prime Minister – ‘Do The Right Thing and Take Down Videos That Are Killing Young People

In an emotional meeting, Child Prime Minister of the UK Children’s Parliament, Clark Dearson, 11 years old, heard the heartbreaking stories of two mothers who have lost sons to dangerous online challenges spread on social media platforms like TikTok.

Clark met with Hollie Dance, whose 12-year-old son Archie Battersbee tragically died in April 2022 after arguably a “prank or experiment” involving breath holding potentially went horribly wrong at their family home in Southend-on-Sea.

He also spoke with Lisa Kenevan, whose 13-year-old son Isaac is believed to have died taking part in a deadly online “choking challenge” promoted on some social media feeds.

The grieving but brave mothers have joined forces to campaign for greater online safety for children, warning that more young lives will be lost if dangerous stunts and challenges continue to spread unchecked on popular platforms.

Following the emotional meeting, the Child Prime Minister has written a powerful letter to Rich Waterworth, the General Manager of TikTok UK, urging the platform to immediately remove videos depicting or promoting life-threatening online challenges.

In the letter, also copied to leading online safety campaigners like Carolyn Bunting (CEO of Internet Matters), Baroness Uddin, Anna Firth MP and others, Clark pleads:

“So far two people have sadly died attempting to undertake the challenges on these disgraceful videos which I have been informed involve holding your breath for extremely long lengths of time.

Most likely, many more people will be hurt unless you take down the videos. It is highly upsetting to know that, as a result of your lack of action, many lives are at stake and kids are dying or being severely injured. I don’t want any more innocent children to die.”

The Child PM reminds Mr Waterworth that TikTok has Community Guidelines in place to moderate harmful content, stating:

“I know that you have a set of Community Guidelines to help you and your team filter out inappropriate content on your site. Well this video is harming members of OUR community and, if this doesn’t go against those guidelines or even slightly concern you, then I don’t know what will.”

Clark argues that TikTok UK has nothing to gain commercially by allowing these deadly videos to persist, saying:

“TikTok will gain absolutely nothing if the video is allowed to remain on your site, except a large number of protestors campaigning for you to take the video down.

You would gain the support of many people by doing the right thing. If you want to be respected, then integrity is really something you must prioritise.”

In a passionate plea, the Child Prime Minister implores:

“Now, please, I implore you, remove the video from your site and do the right thing.”

The two campaigning mothers, who have formed a solidarity group for parents affected by tech dangers, spoke of their pride that young Clark is taking up the fight to make the online world safer.

Hollie Dance said: “No parent should have to bury their child because of something they saw on the internet. We are in awe of Clark’s determination to prevent further tragedies at such a young age.”

Lisa Kenevan added: “We never thought our sons would pay the ultimate price for the reckless propagation of online challenges by tech giants more concerned with profits than child safety. Clark’s letter gives us hope that a new generation of leaders will hold these companies to account.”

Children’s online safety campaigners have welcomed the Child PM’s intervention, stating that current self-regulation of harmful content by tech platforms is vastly insufficient and real-world consequences like accidental deaths demand a stronger government response.

Posted: 29th April 2024