The News: US President Donald Trump was holding a big rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last Saturday night, as part of his campaign to win a second term as the US President. The election is scheduled to be held in November 2020.
The venue was a big stadium designed to hold 19,000 people inside and 40,000 people in a spillover area outside. Trump was anticipating a huge crowd, and people in his campaign had said at one point that more than 1 million people had expressed an interest in attending the event! However in actuality, only 6,200 people showed up, which then fell flat on its face.
What happened? Well, some people would have stayed away from such a large gathering of people due to the coronavirus. There were also media reports that wide spread protests were expected at the arena, so that might have kept some people away. But one more reason was a week-long effort by K-pop fans on TikTok and Twitter! Read here to find out about Korean pop or K-pop.
Some accounts say that when the Trump team alerted people on Twitter that tickets to the event could be easily booked for free, K-pop stars and influencers with many followers on Twitter and TikTok encouraged people to reserve tickets and then not turn up. Apparently a lot of them did, using fake email addresses and phone numbers. They were able to falsely boost the number of people projected to be there and pranked the Presidential rally! Needless to say, the event was very poorly attended.
That’s a lot of influence! Why would K-Pop stars care about the US Presidential election? K-Pop stars have huge fan bases of young people, and they are very active in speaking out for what they believe in. Their fans are very engaged, and together they wield a lot of influence and raise awareness about many social and charitable issues. The K-pop community has contributed to many causes such as the Black Lives Matter movement and helping Syrian refugees with food and clothing. They are sympathetic to LGBTQ issues, and are active politically.
The US Presidential election will be very important, as President Trump is running for his second term, and while he has many supporters, he is a polarising and opinionated person who has also made decisions that have alienated many groups of people. This will be a very interesting election to follow.
Social media as a tool and as a weapon: Using TikTok videos and Twitter and other social media to mobilise groups of people on this scale is ingenious. Look at the kind of power that the group wields and the impact that they were able to have! There is a dark side to this kind of power as well. Technology has changed the way that people communicate with each other, and it is used to influence games with high stakes, elections being one of them. It is hard to tell sometimes, what is real and what is not. Remember deepfakes? Even experts have a hard time distinguishing real videos from fake ones. That’s why it is very important to always double check information that you come across and not blindly forward anything that you receive, or to believe everything that people say.
Written by Sunaina Murthy. This article was adapted from those on CNN, BBC and Vox.