TikTok’s latest ban on “devious licks” videos really brought out my inner Old. Considering the crazy things the Youth and others do on TikTok nowadays, I sincerely thought the kids were out licking things in a pandemic, which is both alarming and gross. Thankfully, I was wrong, but the alternative is perhaps more disturbing: These videos apparently show teens stealing things from their schools.
On Wednesday, TikTok told Insider that it was removing hashtags, blocking content, and redirecting searches for devious licks, a trend that surged in popularity this month and included students reportedly stealing everything from projectors and microscopes to plastic spoons and paper towel holders. The company stated that the behavior violated its community guidelines.
“We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to Insider.
Although the company said it was blocking the content to discourage stealing from schools, at the time of publication of this blog we could still see dozens upon dozens of devious licks, such as those linked above.
According to Urban Dictionary—which was my go-to source for this blog—a lick is “a successful type of theft which results in an acceptable, impressive and rewarding payday for the protagonist.”
I’m not sure what the impressive or rewarding “payday” can be for stealing those typical white plastic spoons, which break if you just breathe on them incorrectly, but I guess it’s internet glory. That’s uh, so worth it, I guess. But what do I know, I’m an Old.
It’s not clear how many teens decided to become small-time criminals all in the name of devious licks, but we can take a guess based on the number of videos using the sound most associated with the trend, which is called “if i accept your valid.” There were more than 122,000 videos the last time we checked.
In a Facebook post spotted by Insider, principal Toni Zetzsche, from Florida’s River Ridge High School, asked parents to talk to their students about the licks and remind them that they’re breaking school rules and the law.
“We will investigate every single video, we will monitor and use social media footage to catch the students responsible and we will ask for law enforcement intervention in every situation while also providing school discipline at the maximum level allowed,” Zetzsche said.