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TikTok users pile negative ratings on Trump campaign app in retaliation for ban threat

In a revival of generation Z versus the Trump administration, TikTok users posted negative ratings on Apple's App Store and Google Play

US President Trump said he intends to ban Chinese social media app TikTok. EPA
US President Trump said he intends to ban Chinese social media app TikTok. EPA

TikTok users have responded furiously to US President Donald Trump’s promise to ban the social media app by flocking to leave negative reviews on a Trump campaign app.

Thousands have left one-star reviews on app platforms like Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

US officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent company poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Mr Trump told reporters on Friday, adding that it would happen “soon, immediately. I mean essentially immediately.”

Late on Saturday, Peter Navarro, director of the White House's office of trade and manufacturing policy, told Fox News that Trump would be taking action on TikTok on Sunday or Monday.

“Gen-Z don’t [sic] go down without a fight,” said Yori Blacc, a user in California with almost one million followers, in a video instructing users to give negative reviews on the Official Trump 2020 App.

The app allows users to register for rallies, check-in to events, keep up to date with campaign news and make donations.

From almost 300,000 ratings on Apple’s App Store, the app now has 1.5 stars out of five. It fares better on Google Play, with 3.3 stars from 43,715 ratings. On Saturday, app intelligence agency Sensor Tower said 675 negative reviews of the app were posted on the App Store, with only 23 positive reviews.

Mr Trump’s supporters have started leaving positive reviews of the app to counter the negative reviews, which, instead of attacking the US president, attack the functionality of the app

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In a display of how threatened users are by the potential ban, Mr Blacc then encourages followers to find him on other social media platforms, a call made by many users with high followings in preparation for the ban.

Negative ratings have been left on the app since early June, but Mr Trump’s revelation that the ban could come as soon as Sunday or Monday sparked TikTok stars to echo the call for hijacking the review sections for the app and hundreds to leave reviews.

“It broke my phone right away so I had to buy a new phone!” one user writes on a Apple review. “I just don’t want him to be president again,” reads another.

It isn’t the first time the younger generation has gone to online battle with the President, either. In mid-June, a Trump rally saw over one million sign-ups to attend, leading the venue in

Oklahoma to extend space into the parking area.

It emerged TikTok users had turned the booking process into a meme, by declaring an intention to attend and registering, only to not show up.The viral campaign could have resulted in hundreds of thousands of prank registrations, The New York Times said at the time.

“Do I think that this is going to fundamentally change the election? No,” Tim Lim, a veteran Democratic digital strategist told Bloomberg in June. “But it goes to show that they are just as susceptible to these mass actions as anyone else. Trump is starting to see what it feels like to have a massive online army committed to defeating him.”

The move by TikTok fans is reminiscent of a campaign by students in China to get an education app removed from the app store in the hope of cancelling lessons during the coronavirus. Both efforts will fail if that is the goal, however. Apple’s App Store only removes apps which breach its guidelines, ratings have no impact.

Updated: August 2, 2020 05:46 PM

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