They’re turning out to be one of the most politically effective forces in ages, with their savvy use of digital platforms to run campaigns.
This is to the fury of Donald Trump, who’s become a notable target for many politically active teens.
Which is why he’s now making noises about banning TikTok, the app to which much of their organising reportedly takes place on.
In the aftermath of Trump demoting campaign manager Brad Parscale, who was on borrowed time following the teen-helmed disruption of his Trump’s ‘comeback’ rally in Tulsa, let’s look at 5 times teenagers trolled the orange man in the White House.
1. When they made his Tulsa rally flop harder than the 'Charlie’s Angels' reboot
This was the declaration of war if you will. The world suddenly realised that teens and Trump were at loggerheads and the shot that started it all was a half-full stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma. What was supposed to be a glorious comeback rally for Trump and his re-election campaign, who boasted that over 1m tickets were reserved, turned into only 6,200 people turning up to a 19,000 capacity stadium. Teens (mainly K-Pop fans) claimed victory, alleging they had reserved tickets for the rally en masse, thus tricking Trump’s camp into thinking it would be a far bigger event. The Commander-in-Chief ended the night looking furious, foundation seemingly smeared into his shirt collar. Who hasn’t been there?
2. When they targeted Trump's merch shop
The Trump merch train was big business in the 2016 election: every Trump supporter was sporting one of his little red MAGA hats. Remember Kanye West turning up in one? Well savvy teens decided to hit Trump where it really hurts: his e-commerce platform. Via online videos, they instructed one another to fill their carts with Trump 2020 merch and then abandon them. This is actually a pretty damaging tactic that really does affect inventory and analytics on online shopping. Smart.
3. When they rated his app really, really badly
Why does the Official Trump 2020 app have one star on every major app store? Teens. After Republicans began talking about banning TikTok, they decided to get their revenge. Not only did they flood his app with bad reviews, they went the extra mile too; instead of just being rude, they claimed the app was glitchy, invaded privacy and had lots of pop up ads. A sample review:
Absolutely awful. Glitchy as can be. I don't know who developed this but it was obviously poorly developed to be so unusable. Not to mention, you have to put so much personal information in just to get started! I was surprised that a campaign so concerned about my privacy would ask for so much information. All that and it didn't even work when I did get it to open (which was not often). For such a big campaign to have such faulty app development... SAD.
The clue that this is a teen and not a genuine app user is in the fact they cite The Donald himself. Beaten at his own game.
4. Rally round two: 2 fast, 2 furious
Last week, the Trump camp decided to postpone a planned rally in New Hampshire. They claimed this was due to an incoming storm. But the internet has its suspicions (especially when Saturday dawned bright and clear) that it was actually due to the fear teens had managed to disrupt the ticket registry process again. Now Republicans are apparently fearful of what might happen if Trump decides to cancel more rallies. Trump’s staff are fearful of what might happen if no one turns up to the rallies. Teens? They’re pretty happy.
5. When they mass reported Trump’s social media accounts
This perhaps was the least impactful teen-led action but TikTokers rushed to report Donald Trump’s social media accounts en masse at the end of June. While it didn’t get Trump banned or suspended, he’d have definitely got a notification of what the teens were up to. And boy would that have riled him up. Trump does not understand teens or trolling (despite being a master troll himself) and being made fun of is his worst nightmare.
The teens might be clinching victory in these individual battles but the overriding question remains: can they win the war?