Italian influencer accused of ‘inciting suicide’ by cops for posting TikTok ‘challenge’ a week after girl’s death
A TIKTOK influencer has been accused of "inciting suicide" in Italy for posting an asphyxiation video a week after a ten-year-old girl died taking part in a sick challenge.
Police said the 48-year-old Sicilian woman posted the "extremely dangerous" video on the platform without restrictions so that anyone could see it including children.
It shows a contest between the woman and an unidentified man covering their faces "so that they could not breathe", police said today.
The disturbing video has now been removed from TikTok.
Police said it and similar videos "could be emulated by minors".
The influencer had published a number of disturbing challenges, "which allowed her to gain popularity and the attention of 731,000 followers of different ages", police said.
Prosecutors authorised a search of the woman's computer and social network accounts as the probe continues.
Investigators did not specify if the video in question was viewed by Antonella Sicomero, ten, who accidentally choked herself to death last week.
She also lived in Sicily, although there is not thought to be any connection.
Her family said she was filming a video for a terrifying TikTok challenge before her five-year-old sister found her lifeless in the bathroom.
Public prosecutors in Palermo opened two investigations for "instigation to suicide".
The child's mobile was seized by investigators, who are looking into whether she was broadcasting live and if she was copying other TikTok users.
Take control of TikTok – change these settings now
Parents should do the following immediately…
- Head into Settings > Privacy and Safety and look for the Discoverability heading at the top.
- Under that you'll see a setting called Private Account. Toggle this on.
- TikTok recommends your page to lots of other users to improve video circulation.
- Switch the setting off and the account will no longer be recommended to other users.
Shut out weirdos:
- In Privacy and Safety > Safety, you can prevent other users from interacting with you.
- Most of the settings are on Everyone by default, but can be changed to Friends or Off.
- You can prevent interactions on comments, Duets, Reacts, users seeing which videos you've liked, and also messages.
Restricted Mode ON:
- Restricted Mode tries to limit age-inappropriate content from appearing for children.
- It's not perfect, and works through using computer-scanning systems – so some dodgy content will inevitably be missed.
- It's also possible to set a passcode to prevent your child from changing this setting later on.
- You'll find this in Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Screen Time Management.
Antonella's death caused shockwaves in Italy, and prompted a major investigation into the Chinese-owned video sharing site.
Italy announced it had temporarily blocked access to TikTok for all users who cannot definitively prove their age.
Users must be at least 13 years old, according to TikTok's rules, but watchdogs say it is easy for younger children to sign up.
Italy's privacy and data watchdog filed a legal case against TikTok in December alleging a "lack of attention to the protection of minors".
Regulators are also looking into how young children access Facebook and Instagram.
After the girl's death, TikTok said it would fully cooperate with authorities.
A spokesman said: "Our deepest sympathies are with the girl's family and friends.
"We do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies dangerous behaviour that might lead to injury, and our teams work diligently to identify and remove content that violates our policies.
"While we have not currently found evidence of content on our platform that might have encouraged such an incident off-platform, we will continue to monitor closely as part of our continuous commitment to keep our community safe.
"We will also assist the relevant authorities with their investigation as appropriate."
You’re Not Alone
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Movember, www.uk.movember.com
- Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm
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