TikTok says videos of students stealing from classrooms violate rules enabling 'criminal activities' as schools beg kids not to participate in the viral trend

·2 min read
line of school buses
Schools are posting public statements asking students to not participate in a viral TikTok trend that involves stealing school equipment. billnoll/Getty Images
  • TikTok said it was removing content and hashtags related to the "devious lick" challenge.

  • The challenge involves TikTok users claiming that they stole school equipment like soap dispensers.

  • A spokesperson said TikTok doesn't allow content that "promotes or enables criminal activity."

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TikTok is removing hashtags and redirecting searches related to a trend of students stealing from their schools because the behavior violates its community guidelines, a spokesperson for the app told Insider.

The so-called "devious licks" trend, which picked up steam in September as students across the US returned to school, had TikTok users flooding the platform with claims that they were stealing school equipment ranging from paper towel dispensers to projectors.

These thefts are referred to as "licks," typically accompanied by an adjective like "devious" or "diabolical" depending on the scale of the theft. A January entry on Urban Dictionary defines a "lick" as a "successful type of theft which results in an acceptable, impressive and rewarding payday."

The trend went viral on TikTok, where the most prominent audio associated with the challenge has been used in over 109,000 videos. Many of the videos associated with the trend - some parody or jokes - have amassed millions of likes and views, while others number in the hundreds of thousands.

"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, adding that the platform was blocking the content in an effort to "discourage such behavior."

As of Wednesday morning, TikTok had removed the #deviouslick hashtag, as well as spelling variations like #deviouslicks. The app is also redirecting searches for the phrase "devious lick" and similar variations to a landing page saying that the phrase may be associated with content that violates TikTok's community guidelines.

The platform has enacted similar moves in the past around other content in violation of its community guidelines, particularly ones that promote dangerous activities, such as the "blackout challenge," an internet-popular asphyxiation game.

Some schools have posted public statements linking recent loss of items and destruction of property to the "devious lick" trend, begging students to stop and urging parents to speak with their children about the behavior.

"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," a Facebook statement from the principal of River Ridge High School, located in Florida, reads.

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