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TikTok removes 'devious licks' videos of students allegedly stealing school property

The videos, which began popping up last month, show students taking items, such as wet floor signs, microscopes and clocks.
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TikTok on Wednesday confirmed it has banned content around the "devious licks" trend, in which students post videos of items they allegedly stole from their schools.

The videos, which began popping up last month, show students taking items, such as wet floor signs, microscopes and clocks, and then describing them as their "devious licks."

The platform said this kind of content violates 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 an email. "We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior."

Insider first reported the news.

The trend started after TikTok user @jugg4elias posted a video of himself pulling a box of disposable masks out of his backpack with the caption, "A month into school absolutely devious lick. Should've brought a mask," according to meme database Know Your Meme. That video received roughly 239,000 views in a week, Know Your Meme reported.

Days after @jugg4elias posted his video, another user, @dtx.2cent, posted a video showing that he had allegedly stolen a hand sanitizer dispenser, according to Know Your Meme. That video reportedly earned 7.2 million views.

Those two accounts, and their "devious licks" videos, appear to have been removed as of Wednesday. TikTok said it can't comment on specific accounts.

Copycats soon sprung up, racking up millions of views, including one user who garnered 2.6 million views for posting a microscope as his "devious lick." Phillip Hamilton, an editor at Know Your Meme, told NBC News that he's not surprised the trend was banned after its rapid growth led to others attempting to film their own devious licks.

"Countless devious licks videos have millions and millions of views, and while some are obviously jokes, others are not so clear at all. Stealing trends are on the rise on TikTok, with a trend where users steal the head off of a LeBron James action figure also going viral just in July," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said there are other stealing trends that have popped up on the platform, but that TikTok has been inconsistent in what it has and hasn't banned.

"At this point, devious licks has spread outside the platform. It's all over Instagram, Facebook, you name it. I'm not surprised they did it, just surprised that they let it get to such a point before taking steps to shut it down," he said.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, did not immediately respond to a request for comment made by NBC News.

TikTok has made efforts to stifle trends that violate its community guidelines and could lead to serious injury. Recently, the platform removed the hashtag and videos of the milk crate challenge, in which people were climbing pyramids made of milk crates and often falling, which led to some injuries.

Some schools have made public statements saying they are monitoring for students who try to participate in the "devious licks" trend.

River Ridge High School in New Port Richey, Florida, posted a statement to its Facebook saying that bathrooms and other property on its campus were being destroyed because of the trend. It also said it would investigate all instances of people participating or encouraging the trend and would be "providing school discipline at the maximum level allowed."

"Please talk with your student immediately, as all students involved in the making of the video, destruction of property or watching and cheering on the destruction will be addressed and face consequences," the post reads.

The term "devious licks" is now unsearchable on the platform, but a misspelled version of the hashtag "#devoiuslick" was still showing search results as of Wednesday afternoon and had more than 388,000 views.

In a tweet on Wednesday, TikTok said it expects its "community to create responsibly - online and IRL."

"Please be kind to your schools & teachers," the platform wrote.