Trump’s NH rally is being targeted by bogus attendance records prompted by Twitter and TikTok

Social media users are signing up to receive tickets to President Trump’s rally in New Hampshire this weekend, with no intention of showing up.

It appears to be yet another effort to troll the Trump campaign and create a repeat of the scene in Tulsa, when teenage TikTok users and young fans of K-pop or Korean pop music said that their thousands of false records fueled the campaign. to create space. for an overflowing crowd that didn’t materialize.

Despite a still raging coronavirus pandemic, Trump has returned to the campaign and said last week that he plans to hold a rally in Portsmouth, NH on Saturday. In response, Twitter users opposing Trump have been urging their followers to sign up for rally tickets, simply requiring users to submit some personal data to sign up.

Northeastern University sophomore Aisha Khan is one of those who signed up to receive tickets to the upcoming rally with no intention of attending. She said she had the idea to scroll through the TikTok social media app and see others sign up for tickets. And after seeing what happened in Tulsa on June 20, she said she hoped to do her part locally.

“The goal is to make sure Trump’s turnout is low and that he is not given a bigger platform during his protests,” he told the Globe on Twitter on Monday.

At the first Trump rally since the coronavirus hit the United States earlier this year, he spoke to a crowd of about 6,200, according to the Tulsa Fire Department, far less than the capacity of the site’s approximately 19,000 people.

While the Trump campaign ticket system does not allow users to reserve seats for the rally and admit attendees on a first-come, first-served basis, an avalanche of fake registrations could cause event organizers to misjudge the level of enthusiasm. Before the Tulsa rally, the campaign boasted ticket subscriptions by the hundreds of thousands and created an overflow stage, where Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were expected to speak before the main event. The overflow event was canceled when the expected crowd did not appear.

A tweet by former lawmaker and progressive activist Jon Cooper of Long Island, New York urged his more than 500,000 Twitter followers to subscribe and generated more than 17,000 retweets and nearly 34,000 likes as of Tuesday.

“The impetus was for the teens of TikTok and K-Pop fans who took a hit on social activism when they joined forces several weeks ago to tank Trump’s first campaign in Tulsa,” Cooper told the Globe in an interview. “I think it will be really interesting to see if that feat can be repeated in New Hampshire.”

While acknowledging that the Trump campaign is likely to recalibrate its attendance expectations after the latest rally, the influx of bogus registrations could harm campaign efforts to build an accurate database of followers. Campaigns often request personal information from those who register for events in an effort to identify potential voters.

In fact, campaign manager Brad Parscale boasted before the Tulsa meeting that the campaign had seen its “biggest data record and data collection of all time.”

Cooper said the effort of social media users “completely distorts him.”

“Now that resistance members can be more creative using social media, I think it will be increasingly difficult to hold a successful demonstration in the future,” he said. “Resistance” is an informal nickname adopted by anti-Trump activists.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Globe, but it strongly rejected the idea that false records affect the campaign.

“Leftists and online trolls are making a victory lap, thinking that they somehow affected attendance at the rally, they don’t know what our demonstrations are talking about or how their demonstrations work,” Parscale said in a press release after the Tulsa concentration.

Parscale said the campaign eliminates false records and that they did not take into account the expected size of the rally.

It is unclear how much the bogus enrollment affected campaign attendance expectations in Tulsa. The decision to make optional masks and discourage social distancing may also have contributed to the low turnout, and there are signs that the campaign is taking steps to prevent the same scene from unfolding in New Hampshire. Unlike the Tulsa event, the Portsmouth rally is scheduled to take place outdoors, and event attendees will be “strongly encouraged” to wear face masks, the Trump campaign said in a press release announcing the rally. .

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, said Monday that it is “imperative” that attendees of the meeting wear masks on Saturday.

But, just like at the Tulsa rally, the Trump campaign is asking attendees to sign an exemption that prevents them from holding the campaign accountable if someone hires COVID-19 at the event.

“By registering for this event, you expressly understand and acknowledge that there is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any public place where people are present,” states the exemption.

Christina Prignano can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.