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Donald Trump: TikTok users and K-pop fans said to be behind poor Tulsa turnout

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Tik-Tok users and K-Pop fans were behind the smaller than expected numbers at US President Donald Trump's first campaign rally in months, social media users have claimed.

Mr Trump's campaign manager had blamed "radical" protesters and the media.

But political strategist Steve Schmidt said teenagers across the US ordered tickets without intending to turn up to ensure there would be empty seats.

The campaign had reported at least one million ticket requests for the event.

Mr Schmidt, a critic of the president, said his 16-year-old daughter and her friends had requested "hundreds" of tickets.

A number of parents responded to Mr Schmidt's post saying that their children had done likewise.

Despite Mr Trump's campaign anticipating large crowds, the 19,000-seat arena at at Tulsa's Bank of Oklahoma Center was far from full and plans for him to address an outside "overflow" area were abandoned.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading progressive figure, praised the young people and K-pop fans she said had "flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations".

It is unclear how many of the hundreds of thousands of ticket reservations touted by the Trump campaign were fake, but one TikTok video from 12 June encouraging people to sign up for free tickets to ensure there would be empty seats at the arena has received more than 700,000 likes.

The video was posted after the original rally date was announced for 19 June.

The news had sparked angry reaction because it fell on Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of US slavery. The location of the event, Tulsa, was also controversial, as it was the site of one of the worst racial massacres in US history.

After news of the smaller crowd numbers emerged, the account's owner Mary Jo Laupp praised the response, telling young people who were too young to vote: "Remember that you, in doing one thing and sharing information, had an impact."

If true, it would not be the first time social media users have shown their political impact in recent weeks.

Fans of K-pop, South Korea's popular music industry, have been active in drowning out hashtags used by opponents of Black Lives Matter (BLM) in recent weeks, and raised money following the death of African-American George Floyd last month.

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Coronavirus fears

There had been health concerns about holding the rally, the first of its kind since lockdown measures began in many US states.

Those attending the rally had to sign a waiver protecting the Trump campaign from responsibility for any illness. Hours before the event began, officials said six staff members involved in organising the rally had tested positive.

The pandemic was one issue Mr Trump touched on in his wide-ranging, almost two-hour-long speech to cheering supporters in Oklahoma, a Republican heartland.

There had been fierce opposition, including a legal challenge rejected by Oklahoma's Supreme Court, against holding the rally during the pandemic on health grounds.

Some feared the rally could become a coronavirus "super spreader" event.

More than 2.2 million cases of Covid-19 and 119,000 associated deaths have been reported in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

What did Trump say?

In his opening remarks, Mr Trump said there had been "very bad people outside, they were doing bad things", but did not elaborate. Black Lives Matter activists were among the counter-protesters to gather outside the venue before the event.

On the coronavirus response, Mr Trump said he had encouraged officials to slow down testing because it led to more cases being discovered. He described testing as a "double-edged sword".

"Here is the bad part: When you do testing to that extRead More – Source

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