Teenagers on TikTok and K-pop fans have claimed responsibility for the lack of supporters at Donald Trump’s campaign rally.
The president’s election campaign had promised large crowds in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, but the 19,000-seat BOK Center looked only half full and an overflow stage outside was dismantled as there were no crowds.
Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s spokesman, said protesters stopped supporters from entering the rally but Sky News’ Mark Stone, at the venue, saw no evidence of that.
About 10,000 people are believed to have been at the rally, with supporters having their temperatures taken and being asked to sign a waiver to not sue Mr Trump if they were infected with COVID-19 after attending.
Users of the short-form mobile video platform TikTok and K-pop (Korean pop music) fans have claimed they registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for the rally.
The Trump campaign asked people on Twitter on 11 June to sign-up for the free tickets.
It was picked up by K-pop fans who began sharing the tweet within the large community and asking them to register then not show up.
The trend then spread to TikTok where videos encouraging people to do the same racked up millions of views.
“It spread mostly through Alt TikTok – we kept it on the quiet side where people do pranks and a lot of activism,” YouTuber Elijah Daniel, 26, told the New York Times.
“K-pop Twitter and Alt TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly.
“They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”
To keep the plan under wraps, most users deleted their posts after a day or two to prevent it from spreading out of their social media communities.
But after it was evident the Trump campaign rally was lacking supporters they came out on Twitter to declare the ploy a victory.
Longtime Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, an outspoken Trump critic, tweeted: “My 16-year-old daughter and her friends in Park City, Utah, have hundreds of tickets.
“You have been rolled by America’s teens.”
Other parents tweeted their children had also signed up for tickets, mostly under fake names.
My 16 year old daughter and her friends in Park City Utah have hundreds of tickets. You have been rolled by America’s teens. @realDonaldTrump you have been failed by your team. You have been deserted by your faithful. No one likes to root for the losing team. @ProjectLincoln https://t.co/VM5elZ57Qp
— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2020
Democrat representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in reply to Mr Trump’s campaign manager claiming protesters were to blame.
She said: “Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations and tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an area during COVID.
“Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud.
“KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too.”
And popstar Pink tweeted a news report showing the “smaller than expected” crowd, adding: “I think I sold that same place out in five minutes. #donkeyshow.”