A man in front of urinals.

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Congressman calls on TikTok to ban teens doing the ‘devious licks’ challenge

Blumenthal called TikTok's attempts to remove the videos 'too little, too late.'

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Sep 21, 2021   Updated Sep 21, 2021, 3:26 pm CDT

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is calling on TikTok to address users participating in the “devious licks” trend, saying that it has led to vandalism at schools across the country.

Blumenthal sent a letter to TikTok’s CEO on Monday calling for the popular app to “delete videos, ban users, and restrict hashtags” related to the trend. The “devious licks” trend is viral videos where someone damages something or steals school property.

As the Daily Dot reported last week, principals have told students that they won’t be able to use the bathroom during class as a result of the trend and that bathrooms have been “destroyed.”

The name “devious licks” appears to come from a video in early September where a TikToker took a box of disposable masks from a backpack and captioned it “a month into school absolutely devious lick.” After that, other TikTokers used the “devious lick” caption in other videos, according to Know Your Meme.

In his letter, Blumenthal notes that in Connecticut toilets were clogged and bathrooms were defaced. He also mentions how in other states students stole sinks and fire alarms.

“While TikTok has taken steps to remove these videos, these actions were too little, too late and do not make up for the damage to schools across the country,” Blumenthal wrote, adding: “I am concerned that the Devious Licks trend falls into an unfortunate pattern on TikTok that requires significant attention and commitments to make the platform safer.”

Blumental continued:

“The continual emergence of destructive viral trends is unacceptable and reflects the fact that TikTok is simply not doing enough to ensure that its product is safe.”

Finally, the Connecticut senator said he expected a representative from TikTok to appear before a Senate Commerce Committee subcommittee hearing occurring “within coming weeks” about the impact of social media on children.

“I look forward to discussing these matters with TikTok (or an executive from your company) then,” the senator wrote.

In a statement to the Daily Dot, a TikTok spokesperson said it does not allow “content that promotes or enables criminal activities.

“We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

A search for “devious licks” on TikTok shows a message that says “no results found” and that the “phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines.”


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*First Published: Sep 21, 2021, 11:56 am CDT