The Trump 2020 campaign abandoned online sign-ups Monday to his next rally in Arizona after being spammed with fake entries by teen trolls on TikTok.
The campaign removed its online form for the Tuesday event and instead told Trump supporters to just turn up to the Students For Trump rally.
The drastic move was taken after the debacle last weekend when campaign chair Brad Parscale boasted he had issued over one million tickets to Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, only to see 6,200 people show up.
The campaign privately admitted that at least 300,000 of the million were take, after teens who had no intention of attending and were merely trolling the campaign at the urging of Korean pop music (K-Pop) influencers and TikTok users bombarded the Trump online sign up system.
Marketing and data experts said the removal of the online form for Trump’s next rally in Phoenix is a sign the spamming is continuing – and could have lasting effects for the President’s campaign.
The experts said the mischievous teens could cost the campaign massive amounts in donations because instead of building a list of loyal Trump rally attendees to bombard with please for donations, the campaign instead has a database polluted with fake or unfriendly accounts.
End of the registration: This is how the Students for Trump page for its Phoenix, Arizona, event was changed on Monday afternoon
And before: This was the form on Students for Trump’s website – which was targeted for another wave of trolling by teenagers and K-Pop fans after they successfully spammed the Tulsa rally on Saturday with at least 300,000 fake applications, rendering data harvested for Trump’s re-election bid worthless, according to experts
Plenty of room: The Tulsa, OK, rally saw the stadium just one third full, with a sea of empty seats. It is unclear if this was related to the
New targeting: After huge publicity for the mass troll of Trump’s Tulsa rally, online trolls targeted the next event, a 3,000-capacity indoor rally in Phoenix for Students for Trump
The decision to ditch online sign-ups does not provide any evidence that the empty seats at Tulsa were the result of the TikTok-driven campaign.
It remains unclear whether claims that the mass troll had ‘crowded out’ Trump supporters are true, or whether it was a simple lack of interest among his base which was the cause.
The Trump campaign had repeatedly claimed that TikTok was unrelated to the turnout problem, which itself was reported to have left the president fuming.
But the purpose of asking people for phone numbers and email addresses is not to check if they are TikTok trolls, it is to keep that data and use it to solicit donations and issue reminders to vote.
However the trolls may have left the vast amount of data harvested in Tolsa virtually worthless, experts told DailyMail.com.
‘It’s a serious problem,’ said Joe Gagliese, co-founder of social media marketing firm Viral Nation.
‘When you have an influx of a million people like that and they turn out to be fraudulent you have to figure out how you sift through to find the 25,000 or whatever number of genuine interest.
‘Breaking down a million data points to find who is an authentic follower in that scenario would be very difficult. The other option would be to send adverts to all of them, and then you’re paying to access people who you know obviously don’t support you which is a waste of money.’
Claire Ryan, a Vancouver-based web developer and data expert for Pacific Coast Information Systems, said that because of the spammers Trump’s campaign will probably have to toss data that would otherwise have been very valuable.
‘The goal of the TikTok and K-Pop crew was just to waste the Trump campaign’s time with this,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘But if the goal of the Trump team was to gather this data to generate leads or use it for an email list, the fact that there are a lot of fake records could prove to be a very significant problem.
‘You could try to filter them out, but if 90% of that data is junk, you’d be spending a lot of time and effort for not much reward. That would be a major consideration for their marketing and campaign spend.’
Gagliese said after embarrassing the President in Tulsa, the TikTok trolls were likely to target future rallies up until the election in November.
‘I think they’re going to do it again,’ he said. ‘They’re going to continue to do it throughout the term.
‘It’s the new superpower of social media. What’s become really easy is for movements to get picked up and spread.
‘It leaves the Trump camp in a state where they have to figure out how to qualify the interest that they have, and it might not be possible in the time they have before the election.’
The Trump campaign had been using an online form for supporters to request a ticket for his Tuesday rally, due to be hosted by Students For Trump at the Dream City Church in Phoenix.
The campaign tried to weed out fake sign-ups by asking attendants for a link to their social media accounts, their age and their school.
But anti-Trump trolls posted online joking about how they were going to fool the form – even using their pets’ Instagram accounts.
‘They’re checking ID this time by asking for a social media handle. Not sure what they want with my dog’s Instagram but [shrug emoji]’ one Twitter user Kris Hansen wrote.
Laupp, from Iowa, says the impact of the video was a powerful sense of community
President Trump was reportedly ‘furious’ at the ‘underwhelming’ crowd size in Tulsa on Saturday, putting Brad Parscale at the center of speculation about his future
‘oh wow all of a sudden i live in arizona [cowboy hat emoji]’ another tweeted.
A Twitter account claiming to represent the anarchist hacking group Anonymous tweeted encouraging K-Pop fans to blitz the Phoenix rally site, and received over 10,000 likes.
‘Just putting it out that there are free tickets to see Trump in Arizona. #Anonymous #Kpop #kpopstans trumpstudents.org/convention,’ the account, YourAnonNews, wrote.
After being hit with spam and less than 24 hours before the event, the Trump Campaign removed the form, replacing it with a message reading ‘Registrations are no longer being accepted.
‘If you would like to attend please come to the venue. Venue gates will open at 6am, doors will open at 10am. We recommend arriving early to ensure a great seat!’
Anti-Trump activists told DailyMail.com that they were emboldened by their success at spamming Trump’s Tulsa rally, and have since been signing up for tickets to his Phoenix rally and also Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming rally in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin-based mom Ashley said her 13-year-old son and his friends have been creating fake accounts to sign up for tickets.
‘As soon as they found out about sign ups, they mass created ghost/fake profiles and linked those,’ she told DailyMail.com
‘My son and his friends have thousands of followers combined (through tiktok, instagram, etc) and plan to continue to spread the word. They want to make their voices heard, and right now this is the way they feel they can get their point across.
‘They absolutely are planning on doing it for the Arizona rally too, as well as VP Pence’s visit to Wisconsin this week.’
The Wisconsin Rapids-based mother said that as well as K-Pop fans on TikTok, teens on video game social media sites like Twitch had also piled in to prank the President.
The communications director for the Trump campaign downplayed Laupp’s actions
Brad Parscale, campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 campaign tweeted that ‘radical protestors… interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters at the rally’. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, responded: ‘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’
The Trump campaign’s chief spokesperson blamed ‘media-stoked fear’ for the poor attendance at the rally
‘It’s not uncommon to watch a Fortnite or Valorant streamer play and talk about things that are going on in the country. K-pop is definitely one of the driving forces as well,’ she said.
‘People seem to write off the gaming community/tiktok community easily and I think that’s a problem.’
The energy involved in battling the trolls is ill-timed for Trump’s campaign.
It is battling poor poll numbers, worrying fundraising returns which showed Joe Biden taking in more cash than Trump in May, and persistent rumors that Parscale will be fired or sidelined.
The two-thirds empty Tulsa BOK stadium offered a symbol of a campaign in trouble, critics said.
Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old former Democratic campaign volunteer for Pete Buttigieg from Fort Dodge, Iowa, went viral after posting about spamming sign-ups for Trump’s Tulsa rally last week.
Laupp told DailyMail.com she was surprised by the impact of the mostly teen-led movement, and that it marks a turning point for Generation Z’s involvement in politics.
‘I didn’t expect this outcome. I fully expected him to pack that arena,’ she said.
‘I know students have already been all over TikTok and Twitter saying “there’s a student rally in Arizona, let’s make this go viral again.”‘
‘The K-Pop crowd and teenagers on TikTok are definitely already mobilizing to make the same thing happen there.’
Laupp said she thinks the spam sign-ups were only a small part of the reason for a low turnout at Trump’s Tulsa rally on Saturday, but that TikTok teens had taken the win all the same.
‘Regardless of the real reason for the numbers on Saturday night, teenagers have been messaging me saying ‘We did this, we had this impact, I was a part of this,’ she said.
‘There were teenagers who had all-night house parties after the rally. They were celebrating what felt like a political victory for them.
‘They feel empowered and energized, and I think it will have more of an impact if Gen Xers stand aside and let them prove to the world they don’t need us to be activated and politically involved.
‘I think this will really let both parties know these young people want to be involved and want to have a voice. But they’re not going to do politics the same way it’s always been done. They want to use the technology they’re comfortable with to impact the campaign.’
DailyMail.com has contacted both Students for Trump and the Trump campaign for comment.
Arizona mega-church where Donald Trump will hold 3,000-strong rally makes bogus claim its ‘ionization’ system kills 99% of coronavirus
President Donald Trump is set to hold his second campaign event at an indoor venue since the coronavirus hit Tuesday – this one at a Phoenix megachurch whose pastor has touted an air filtration system that kills ‘99.9 per cent’ of the coronavirus.
Trump jets to Yuma, Arizona Tuesday to visit a section of border wall, then heads to Phoenix, where he will attend a ‘Students for Trump’ event at the Dream City Church in north Phoenix.
Arizona Central reports as many as 3,000 people are expected – although early estimates for Trump’s Tulsa event were wildly off, with rows of empty blue seats after Trump and his campaign touted 1 million RSVPs.
President Donald Trump is traveling to Arizona Tuesday, where he will address an estimated 3,000 students at an campaign event at a north Phoenix megachurch. It comes after President Trump’s Tulsa rally featured rows of empty seats. The senior pastor of the church has touted an ionization air filter that killds ‘99.9 per cent’ of coronavirus
The Phoenix City Council has imposed a mask mandate, and many attendees will be young people, who have been shown to have a lower risk of death to the virus.
The church has five different locations in Arizona and two out of state.
Senior Pastor Luke Barnett and Brendon Zastrow claim on video the church has an air purification system that relies on ionization to kill the virus – although the Centers for Disease control do not list it among recommendations for treating the coronavirus.
‘We’ve installed Clean Air EXP,’ said Zastrow in a video the two cut, TMZ reported, touting the uncorroborated claim.
‘It kills 99.9 per cent of COVID within 10 minutes, says Zastrow, who says two church members work at the company.
‘Ionization, is that what it is?’ Barnett asks in the video.
The Dream City Church, Phoenix campus. President Trump will hold a campaign event with students at one of the church’s Arizona locations
Senior Pastor Luke Barnett and Brendon Zastrow claim on video the church has an air purification system that relies on ionization to kill the virus ‘99.9 per cent of the time’
Pastor Luke Barnett preaches at the Dream City Church, which hosts President Trump Tuesday for another indoor campaign event, where 3,000 people are expected to attend
‘Ioniation of the air and it takes particulates out and COVID cannot live in that environment,’ Barnett responds.
‘So when you come into our auditorium, 99 per cent of COVID is gone, killed, if it was there in the first place,’ says Barnett. ‘So you can know when you can come here you’ll be safe and protected. ‘
‘Thank God for great technology and thank God for being proactive,’ he concludes.
The company they cite, Clean Air EXP, on its website touts a ‘whole-home air purification solution that silently works with your home’s heater or air conditioner’
It has a censor that measures particulates and tracks ‘temperature, humidity, methane, carbon dioxide, and other toxic gases and volatile organic compounds,’ according to the site.
Online testimonials say it provided ‘better sleep,’ reduced asthma, helped migraines ‘vanish,’ and that it protected children and pets from ‘harmful odors.’
The website does not say it eliminates the coronavirus, and an online warranty states it states that outside of manufacture and installation there is no implied warranty of ‘fitness for a particular purpose.’
The church and the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Arizona visit also gives Trump the chance to pivot to a favorite issue of his 2016 campaign Tuesday when he visits a sector of the border in Arizona just days after speaking to rows of empty seats at a campaign rally in Tulsa.
The president is scheduled to visit Yuma on Tuesday to mark the completion of the 200th mile of the border wall system between the U.S. and Mexico.
It’s a symbolic achievement he hopes to trumpet amid other grim numbers of recent months – including more than 120,000 deaths to the coronavirus.
Junior Hernandez, a migrant from Guatemala, runs next to the border fence where he and members of the Coalicion Pro Defensa del Migrante (Pro Defense of the Migrant Coalition) painted a graph showing statistics of dead migrants, on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on November 2, 2019
Trump has pledged to have ‘substantially more than 500 miles completed’ by February of 2021. But according to a detailed Washington Post analysis updated at the end of May, of the 200 miles that have been reinforced with new fencing, there are just 16 miles of border with completely new barrier.
Arizona is now a coronavirus hotspot, which will further complicate White House messaging for the event. Reporters and staff traveling with the president will continue to be tested for COVID-19 and have their temperatures checked, although the White House on Monday scaled back temperature checks for those visiting the White House complex.
White House officials told the Yuma Sun that the president will receive a briefing on the border wall construction, then participate in a roundtable discussion with local community and elected leaders on border security.
After the roundtable, Trump will tour the border wall and thank U.S. Border Patrol and law enforcement for their efforts and then fly to Phoenix to speak at a Students for Trump convention at Dream City Church.
Trump is expected to address up to 3,000 people at an event at the Dream City Church in Phoenix, where ‘Students for Trump’ members will attend, AZ Central reported.
It is a state where polls between Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden are tight, and Sen. Martha McSally faces a tough fight for reelection after embracing Trump.
It is yet another trip that will get Trump outside of Washington, where he has been raging about mail-in ballots, blasting congressional Democrats and rival Joe Biden, and sidelining overseers by firing inspectors general and signing off on a weekend plan to axe the top prosecutor in Manhattan.
Expected to join Trump in Yuma are Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, and Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan.
Trump´s last appearance in Yuma was in 2017 when he visited with U.S. Marines and Customs and Border Protection agents.