TikTok teens attempt to sabotage Trump campaign after president threatens to ban app

Teens are posting thousands of negative reviews for the Official Trump 2020 campaign app online

Danielle Zoellner
Friday 10 July 2020 17:39 BST
Mike Pompeo: US to consider banning TikTok and other Chinese apps

TikTok teens have declared war against the Trump administration after calls to ban the app heightened among Republicans.

First, these social media users used their power to request thousands of tickets to Donald Trump's Tulsa campaign rally, which potentially impacted how many the campaign expected to attend. This occurred prior to any threats to ban the app.

They now have turned their sights on posting negative reviews about the Official Trump 2020 app in the Apple Store. As of 10 July, the app had more than 200,000 negative reviews and a 1.2 star rating in the Apple Store due to the campaign.

Users are using this tactic in an effort to get the app deleted from the Apple Store, but it may be misguided. The company has not deleted apps in the past due to negative reviews. Instead apps are deleted for violating guidelines or other problems.

Teenagers used a similar tactic with Google Classroom in April, an app schools used for online teaching during coronavirus pandemic, to get the app deleted. The tactic didn't work.

The retaliation from TikTok teens using the app, which is owned by China's Bytedance Ltd, comes after Mr Trump said this week he was considering barring the social media app. TikTok reportedly has 165 million downloads in the United States alone.

Mr Trump said he was considering banning the app as a way to hurt China.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then reiterated negative sentiments against the app this week and urged Americans to not download it unless they wanted their personal information to fall into "the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."

Although the Trump administration has discussed banning the app, it was unclear how they would be able to carry out the ban for the entirety of the country.

Ordering Americans to not use the app would likely be unconstitutional and infringe on their First Amendment rights. The move would also face backlash from millions, as is seen with the current campaign led by Generation Z.

Kurt Opsahl, general counsel of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF), a digital rights group, told Fortune the route the Trump administration could take is barring federal workers from using the app or preventing any federal funding to go towards it.

The government could also target licensing procedures, which would largely affect companies like Apple and Google who provide the app to phone users.

"We could spend a lot of time spinning our wheels trying to anticipate ways that the administration could try to ban, but it still remains their job to figure out what they meant, and explain how it is a lawful and constitutional exercise of executive power," Mr Opsahl told the publication.

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