On Sunday night, President Trump’s political rally was disrupted by TikTok users who weaponized the social media platform to misdirect audience attendance.
President Trump’s Tulsa, Oklahoma rally had close to one million attendees registered. However, at the time of the rally, just roughly 6,200 were in attendance. (A record 7.7 million people watched the rally on live television.)
While event organizers know there’s always a margin of error between registration and attendance, the significant gap between 6,200 and one million is largely being attributed to TikTok users.
TikTok, a social media platform that mainly focuses on short videos, had users organize to strategically disrupt the Trump rally, as seen below with instructions on just how to do it. The plan was for people to sign up to attend the rally with no intention of ever showing up for it.
@maryjolauppDid you know you can make sure there are empty seats at Trump’s rally? ##BLM.♬ original sound – maryjolaupp
As for mass organization disruption, this was a uniquely interesting case of the next phase of mass protest in the wake of a season of protests and riots. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez says that the political disruption was at the hands of “teens on TikTok,” whom she called Zoomers.
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
Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud. ☺️ https://t.co/jGrp5bSZ9T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 21, 2020
President Trump’s campaign team indicated the low turnout was due to protesters, despite there being no evidence of protests that would have put such a significant dent in the attendance numbers.
The COVID-19 lockdowns forced many people to become familiar with and rely on the digital sphere for many of their daily activities. What we are now seeing is how groups have shifted to online spaces which they are managing to weaponize for political actions previously unheard of.