Are Kids Stealing Because TikTok Made It Seem Cool, or Is the ‘Devious Licks’ Freakout Yet Another Adult-Led Moral Panic?

Have you ever left your garage door unlocked and discovered that the fridge was empty of beer? TikTok was not the first time teens were determined, brave thieves. Adults have become increasingly concerned about “devious Liks”, a TikTok trend in which teenagers post photos of the cool things they’ve stolen, usually from school.

It was unsurprising that this new trend which involved pilfering items like toilet paper dispensers and soap (in some cases kids claimed to have pried urinals off the walls) from high schools bathrooms did not get well received by adults who were whipped into a mad frenzy. What is the “Viral TikTok” trend? Questioned one In-depth SourcesReport. Teachers and school officials circulated a long list of other jokes that kids planned to pull throughout the year. This list included one month dedicated to hitting teachers’ butts. The list was claimed to have been created by the children themselves, rather than being compiled by a single school resource officer from Idaho, named Deputy Dave Gomez, who didn’t bother to check the origins of the list. Reply to All reported. People who have ever had to deal with teens know they don’t excel at planning ahead or coordination across friends groups, high schools and even state lines in order to achieve something as simple as hitting a teacher. National and local media outlets reprinted the same stories without even considering the fact that teenagers make things up. And Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.) asked TikTok representatives to testify before Congress, taking the company to task for its role in the licks—par for the course given how eager Congress has been of late to castigate social media companies for teen usage.

Blumenthal addressed a letter to Shou Zi Chew in which he stated that deleting videos, banning users, and restricting hashtags glorifying property damage and threats school safety are all responsibility.

The company however Did It was necessary to quickly remove the hashtag, thereby preventing access to roughly 94,000 #deviouslicks (or related #diabolicallicks) videos. It is also worth noting that (as techdirt rightly did), that for every “devious lick” there is an equal and opposite “angelic yield”—another TikTok trend that emerged soon after, which depicts teens restoring or replacing stolen goods to their original spots. Although some schools have bathrooms, Were Some goods were damaged and wrongly vandalized. The extent to which youth rebellion threatened schools was exaggerated by news reports that are stale and adults who assume each TikTok clip is a child telling the truth, not something staged to gain clout. Brock Colyar reported the story at CurbedYou can find this link:

For all of the vandalism in real life, it is very possible that these teenage punks are also punking others. Gavino, 17, a high school student in Minnesota uploaded the video. It showed a classroom sink spewing water and described it as a Devious Lick’. However, when I reached out to him via Snapchat, he said that he was not actually trying poach the faucet. The faucet was damaged, and he recorded a video. Another student was 14 years old, and he posted a TikTok stuffed Chromebooks in his backpack. I asked him about it.

Of course, “stealing from school has been a thing since the beginning of time…but what is new is the clout, I guess, that can be gained from it,” says YouTuber Jarvis Johnson. Moral panics surrounding teen behavior have always existed—rainbow parties, pharm parties, glue-sniffing fears, vodka-soaked tampons, the Tide pod challenge, jelly sex bracelets, snorting bath salts—but what is new is the fact that scorn is so aggressively fixed on companies like TikTok, which handled this about as well as they could’ve reasonably been expected to. Techlashers want timely and proper handling of social media posts that are harmful. That is precisely what TikTok provided.

While it’s tempting to focus on teens’ bad behaviour and tech companies, we can also excuse teachers, journalists and current U.S. senators for their bad conduct. The most disingenuous thing about all is how adults fail to act with even the smallest amount of skepticism and contribute to moral panics, often without realizing it.