On Oct. 8, the NUSD Community Connections post from Superintendent Jan La-Torre Derby contained a section titled “Tik Tok Themes Adversely Affecting Our Students.” It detailed monthly themes that included “Kiss Someone Else’s Girl” in Nov., “Jab a Female” in Jan., and “Grab Boys Privates” in Apr.
It has been confirmed that all but one of these trends does not exist. For example, the Oct. “Slap a Teacher” challenge has been identified as a hoax by Vice News.
“As far as I’m aware not a single story has actually included evidence of an initial threat,” Abbie Richards, a disinformation researcher who focuses on data regarding TikTok tweeted out, “And when I looked into this, I couldn’t find a single TikTok actually endorsing this behavior.”
“The only one I’ve ever heard of is the devious licks trend,” freshman Eddie Castillo Sosa said.
The “devious lick” trend involved students stealing school supplies and destroying property.
“Hamilton had to replace 21 soap dispensers in less than a week,” La-Torre Derby said. On Sept. 15, about two weeks after the start of the trend, TikTok removed the audio associated with it, and any videos that pertained to it.
At the staff meeting on the eighth, the themes were described as a system where people get acknowledged if they send the videos of the challenge into TikTok. “
There is a whole system where you get acknowledged if you send the videos in,” La- Torre Derby said.
This information however, does not represent Tik Tok’s platform. TikTok is almost entirely user run. The majority of trends that become popular originate from users, not from the platform itself. The only way students could get acknowledgment for completing these challenges is from other users. The misinformation about how TikTok functioned, and the alleged monthly challenges most likely began through circulation on Twitter. On Sept. 29, the online news site “Distractify” posted the article, “What is on the Full List of TikTok School Challenges for 2021?” The article included the fake list that was later sent out in NUSD’s Community Connections email.
“The challenges that they think we’re gonna do are just so… funny,” sophomore Isabela Rosemurgy said.
Many students had similar reactions to the fake list and the staff’s understanding of the list, “I don’t think anyone’s making a calendar of this stuff. Trends just happen,” senior Alex Sitinsky said.