By Kincaid Wilson
TikTok is not to blame for the Devious Licks trend. After countless students were arrested and many charged for theft and vandalism, Tik Tok was called to Congress. Congress attempted to shift the blame onto Tik Tok instead of taking a look at schools who cannot seem to enforce basic rules such as “don’t steal sinks.”
The trend undoubtedly started on Tik Tok, but this does not mean it would not have happened if Tik Tok didn’t exist. Instagram, Youtube, Reddit, and Snapchat are just a few examples of platforms that have embraced the Tik Tok formula of letting users post short videos with songs dubbed over them. Each one of these other platforms have introduced nearly the exact same feature to mimic the success of Tik Tok. Trends similar to devious licks were starting on some of these other platforms long before Tik tok existed. I (and many others) remember harmful challenges like “the tide pod challenge” before the popularity of Tik Tok.
Even if congress tried to eliminate all devious licks content from Tik Tok, they still will not have solved this problem. These viral videos have already spread to the rest of social media. Implementing the tyrannical controls over Tik Tok that congress is suggesting would do nothing unless they did the same to every other platform. Personally, I first discovered the devious licks trend on instagram, so it is evident to me that it’s already too late to contain this content to just Tik Tok.
Congress is telling Tik Tok that their efforts were not enough, but deleting the hashtag and videos associated with it is a fairly strong effort. The removal of a hashtag and the videos it contains is no small task. Mike Snider’s article backs this up, reporting there were “175 million views” on videos with this hashtag. Tik Tok is a platform and not a publisher, so for a free platform like this to remove that much content in order to mitigate the damage the trend might cause, the rest of the effort to control students should be on the schools.
What we should take away from this situation is that trends may start in one place, but the spread of this content can only be controlled by the discouragement of the acts themselves. That responsibility is on parents, schools, and students, not Tik Tok. If the devious licks trend is to be ended swiftly, parents must disallow their children from doing this, schools should impose strict consequences, and students should discourage their peers from doing these ridiculous things.