President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday didn’t produce the huge crowds he’d promised — and TikTok users and K-Pop fans say they helped reduce attendance by reserving thousands of tickets online with the intention of not attending.
Trump’s re-election campaign had received more than one million requests for tickets to the rally, according to a tweet Monday by campaign Chairman Brad Parscale, but reporters on the scene of Saturday’s rally noted attendance was below expectations at the 19,000-seat BOK Center.
After Trump’s official twitter account invited supporters to request tickets to the event on June 11, K-Pop fan accounts encouraged their followers to register for the event and then not attend. TikTok videos with millions of views encouraged viewers to do the same, CNN reported on Tuesday.
“Oh no, I signed up for a Trump rally and I can’t go,” one joked in a TikTok posted on June 15.
Parscale tweeted that “radical protestors” had “interfered” with attendance, while Twitter users declared the effort a political victory on Saturday.
“Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, tweeted in response to Parscale’s tweet.
Steve Schmidt, a Republican political strategist, added: ‘My 16 year old daughter and her friends in Park City Utah have hundreds of tickets. You have been rolled by America’s teens.
Parscale denied that the actions of “leftist and online trolls” had any impact on the rally’s attendance.
“Registering for a rally means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number and we constantly weed out bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally, in calculating our possible attendee pool,” Parscale said in a statement. “These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking.
“What makes this lame attempt at hacking our events even more foolish is the fact that every rally is general admission — entry is on a first-come-first-served basis and prior registration is not required.”
TikTok is a social media app where users, mostly teens and young adults, post videos of up to 15 seconds long, often synced with music. The app is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, currently the most valuable startup in the world.
The app has surged in popularity in the first quarter of the year, loggingfrom the Apple App Store and Google Play store, analytics firm Sensor Tower reported in April.
K-pop fans, who are known for having wide online networks, previously used their active presence tothat emerged during Black Lives Matter protests. Fans flooded those hashtags with videos of their favorite groups, drowning out the racist messages.