K-pop stans, teens on TikTok may have inflated expected turnout to President Trump's Tulsa rally
During the rally, President Trump touted his success during the pandemic, saying he saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Wochit
President Donald Trump's rally Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, featured a smaller-than-expected crowd, with rows of empty seats at the 19,000-capacity BOK Center despite an announcement of more than 1 million ticket requests for the event. Some TikTok users and K-pop fans on Twitter believe they could have been responsible for the lower turnout.
After the Trump re-election campaign opened up registration for free tickets to the rally, K-pop fans on Twitter shared information on how to sign up – with directives to get tickets but not attend.
The posts, according to The New York Times, were deleted so "mainstream" social media users wouldn't catch wind of their campaign.
The phenomenon later spread onto TikTok, where scores of users encouraged their followers to do the same.
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Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old woman who has branded herself as the #TikTokGrandma, was one of the first to call for the protests on that platform. In a June 12 TikTok sharing her frustration with a rally taking place on Juneteenth in Tulsa – the rally was moved a day later by Trump's campaign – she explained how to reserve tickets to the rally.
"Did you know you can make sure there are empty seats at Trump’s rally?" she captioned the video, which has now amassed 706,000 likes on the platform as of Sunday.
The Trump campaign pushed back on the influence of the social media effort to reduce the crowd size.
"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," Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement released Sunday.
"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."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised the collective involved in the action, telling Parscale "you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok."
"Shout out to Zoomers," she said, referring to the largely Gen Z makeup of these groups. "Y’all make me so proud."
According to the cached page promoting the event on Trump's official reelection website, those who registered for tickets could reserve two per mobile phone number. The tickets, though, do not guarantee seats inside the arena. The event page said that: "all tickets are subject to first come first serve basis."
This isn't the first coordinated action led by K-pop fans, who have largely self-directed movements to shut down white supremacist hashtags on Twitter and overload police department apps requesting videos of protesters nationwide with videos of K-pop performers, which are known colloquially as "fancams."
Fans of the hugely popular group BTS also matched a $1 million donation by the boy band to the Black Lives Matter movement.