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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Some time ago, I explored TikTok’s babygirlification phenomenon, explaining its origin, ins and outs, and whatnot. Now, months later, I return with another piece about the app. However, this time around, we’ll be looking at what I call ‘The Great TikTok Silencing’.

What happened and why

On February 1st, TikTok users opened the app and found that certain sounds had been removed from many videos. Cue the chaos. Edits set to epic music and dialogue snippets were suddenly rendered silent, the only explanation being a small message at the bottom of the screen that read “Sound removed due to copyright restrictions.”

The Enquirer reported that Universal Music Group had not been able to reach an agreement with TikTok regarding music licensing on the app, causing their songs to be removed at the end of Wednesday, January 31st. The record label had released an open letter on January 30th, the day before the licensing agreement expired, in which they argued that negotiations fell through due to several issues, which included artist pay, user safety, and artificial intelligence protection. Essentially, UMG criticized TikTok and claimed that the company tried to bully them into coming to an agreement. On the other hand, TikTok, in their response to the accusations, countered that the music label’s statement was a false narrative created out of greed.

How the people handled it


everybody’s so creative im not in 90% of these fandoms but i RESPECT EACH OF THESE EDITS SO MUCH #copyright #edits #astarion #winchester #jjk #taehyung #arthurmorgan #johnnycage #anakinskywalker

♬ original sound – quinkyo

This event is proof that people have endless creativity. Editors faced with their now-silent clips wanted to figure out how to restore sound to them. Obviously, the removed music was not an option anymore. So how did they handle it? By using the most random sounds and songs you could think of.  At this point I want to highlight something my mom told me when I ranted about the situation as it was happening: for the editors, “it’s a challenge, not a problem.” The Home Depot theme song, the 20th Century Fox theme, Kahoot music, songs that had been removed played with a voice filter… Whatever you think of, the editors incorporated it. This led to the creation of a myriad of well-made edits set to odd background music or audios. Nobody could stop the production of fan content, not even with the removal of copious amounts of music from a music-based app.

Perhaps the most notable (temporary) loss caused by the Silencing was TikTok user dvcree’s infamous Agent Whiskey edit. Immediately, the comments were flooded by people saying “NOOOO THEY GOT THE PEDRO PASCAL EDIT,” “THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED,” and “THEY’VE HIT THE PENTAGON.” Luckily, for those of us who have the edit saved, the sound was restored after a few excruciating days.

Since then, a lot of the music has been restored. That being said, some other videos that were not initially affected by the Silencing were hit some time after the initial purge. My own saves are a reflection of this: some that had been muted at the beginning of February now have their music back. Yet others that had nothing to do with the original Silencing got muted. It is not entirely uncommon for audios to be removed, but the scale at which it happened was what turned The Great Silencing into such a big deal for TikTok users. So let this be a warning to check your saved videos and make sure that they have been spared from this situation. I wish you the best of luck!

Carola Ríos Pérez is a writer for the Her Campus at UPR chapter. She focuses on writing reviews and analyses about films, series, and books, as well as sharing some of her life experiences through personal essays. In 2021, she graduated with honors from Colegio Nuestra Señora de Belén. Initially, she began her career as a university undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras campus as a Communications student, with a major in Public Relations and Publicity. Currently, she is a junior in Humanities, majoring in Modern Languages, with a focus on Portuguese and German. Other than academics and Her Campus, Carola enjoys kickboxing and spending some quality time with her three cats, Keanu, Ginger, and Kai. Her passion for languages is reflected in her music tastes, and there’s no song she won’t listen to at least once. Occasionally, inspiration will strike, and Carola will focus on writing her own stories, heavily inspired by the Young Adult novels that shaped her teenage years. Every once in a blue moon, though, she will either go into a minor baking frenzy to procrastinate or pick up her guitar and “jam” her worries away.