Teen users of TikTok are not pleased with President Trump and have started using the social media app to get revenge on his reelection campaign. How? By making TikToks that encourage people to download the Trump 2020 campaign app and tank its star rating, one bad review at a time, in the hopes of getting it pulled down.
The strategy appeared to have succeeded — sort of. As of a month ago, the app had only one star in the Apple app store and in Google Play. However, Bloomberg warned that TikTokers may not want to declare victory too quickly. Contrary to the widely held assumption, Apple does not delete apps based on low popularity ratings.
But it does hurt where it appears in the store, and it makes the Trump 2020 campaign look bad. So now, they’ve struck back — by cleaning the Apple app of its bad reviews.
TechCrunch reports that the app’s one-star reviews hit 216,500 on July 9, a trend that continued until the app saw its lowest star rating on July 11, at 1.2 stars. No matter how many positive reviews they got, the negatives outweighed them, and on August 13 it had approximately 1.5 stars.
Then, on August 14, 2020, the Trump 2020 campaign updated the Apple app to a new version, wiping out those old negative reviews. While it’s still getting some one-stars, the push isn’t as aggressive among TikTokers right now, and loyal Trump followers have been leaving their five-stars. And, as of this writing, the app has a 3.8 rating with 3,600+ reviews. (The Google Play version has 2.4 stars out of 46,728 reviews.)
So, has the president’s team had the last laugh?
How It All Began…
Fury started among TikTok users when the Trump administration said it was banning the Chinese-owned app, citing national security concerns as well as a way to get back at China for COVID-19. Most young people think it’s really a revenge play for how young voters are using TikTok to fight Trump by saving the post office and trolling Trump’s rallies.
But the administration stuck to its story. On July 6, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Fox News that the Trump administration was “looking at” banning the popular app.
Meanwhile, Trump himself told TV host Greta Van Susteren that his administration could ban the app as retaliation against China for letting the coronavirus spread.
“It’s something we’re looking at, yes,” he said at the time. “It’s a big business. Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.”
Then, on August 6th, President Trump signed an executive order saying that the Chinese-owned app needed to sell its US assets to an American company or be shut down. The deadline is September 15.
Young fans of the platform, however, weren’t convinced by the administration’s rhetoric.
“I don’t believe Trump is trying to take TikTok away because of national security, but more to retaliate against activism on the app and all the videos about him that drag him through the mud,” 18-year-old Darius Jackson told Bloomberg.
TikTokers Fight Back
Jackson and many other TikTokers shared a new challenge designed to get back at Trump. A viral post by user @unusualbeing, a.k.a. DeJuan Booker, showed users how to leave negative ratings on Trump’s re-election campaign app. The idea was that if enough people rated the app lowly, its overall rating would dip below one star.
“A lot of you probably don’t know this, but the Apple store is actually set up to where if an app gets underneath one star, Apple will actually delete the app,” Booker said in the video, which has been viewed more than 5 million times.
Since then, clips have popped up all over of TikTok users leaving scathing reviews of the app in Apple’s app store. Not only are TikTokers succeeding in filling the page with negative reviews, they’re also getting pretty creative with the content of their critiques.
The reviews trolling Trumps app are simply iconic. Love to see it. pic.twitter.com/NPnuEVeV2j— 🦥 Ya Girl Nan-Ana 🦥 (@TheBandalorian_) July 9, 2020
With reviews being higher, there’s no telling if TikTokers will take to their phones to try and bring down the app’s ratings again. At this point, and with the election looming, they may be looking for newer political battles to take on. Either way, the effort seems to indicate a growing contingent of online Gen Z-ers who aren’t fans of the president — many of whom will be voting for the first time this year.
“This is the first year I’ll be able to vote,” Jackson told Bloomberg, “and I think activism on TikTok is going to make a big difference.”