Despite reports of over a million ticket requests, Donald Trump’s first pandemic rally in Tulsa filled up less than a third of available seats… and K-Pop stans and TikTok users may be one of the reasons why.
In the days leading up to Trump’s rally at the 19,200-seat BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, TikTok user Mary Jo Laupp encouraged teens to make phony ticket requests on Trump’s campaign site in an effort to keep tickets out of the hands of his supporters. “All of those of us that want to see this 19,000 seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty, go reserve tickets now and leave him standing alone there on the stage,” she said.
A thread of some of the TikTokers/Zoomers who reserved tickets to Trump’s rally to shrink the crowd today in Oklahoma ???????? pic.twitter.com/ITz4NAbeTD
— Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) June 21, 2020
The plan went viral among other TikTok users and soon spilled over to K-Pop accounts on Twitter. K-Pop stan culture has become known on Twitter for manipulating the site’s algorithm to post videos of their favorite Korean artists, and users took advantage of that to spread word of how Trump’s campaign had made ticket requests available by phone. K-Pop stans have also made their presence felt in other social issues, promoting Black Lives Matter and matching a $1 million donation from BTS.
“K-pop Twitter and Alt-TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly,” protester Elijah Daniel told The New York Times. “They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”
Forbes reported that approximately 6,200 people attended Trump’s rally, less than a third of the BOK Center’s maximum capacity. An outdoor stage had been set up for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to speak to overflow crowds, but that speech was canceled. Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale blamed “radical protesters, fueled by apoplectic media coverage” on the lower-than-expected numbers, which prompted a sharp rebuke from Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.
“Actually, you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID,” she tweeted. “Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud. KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too.”