Poor Donald Trump. He just can’t catch a break on TikTok where users — and particularly female users — keep finding ways to hurt his feelings.
He wants to ban the Chinese-owned platform, citing security concerns and saying he could use emergency powers or an executive order to prevent it from operating within the country. The United States, along with other governments around the world including Australia, are concerned about data being shared with the Chinese Government.
TikTok will be “out of business” on September 15 says Trump, unless a US based organisation can work out a deal to acquire its US operations — which Microsoft is currently exploring. Trump also wants a “substantial amount of money” to then come into his administration from the new parent company. Somehow.
Whether a Microsoft deal happens or not, it’s hard not to think about Trump’s ego and the potential ban, especially given the string of user-led movements that are rising on the platform, making fun of Trump, mobilising Gen Zs together and going under the radar in being able to exert their people power.
And a number of women must really be getting on his nerves.
You may not have heard of Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old TikTok user, known as #TikTokGrandma. But you will know what she played a hand in to help organise: the ego-shatteringly low turnout at Trump’s Tulsa rally back in June.
Trump wanted huge crowds to make a point about his popularity and bring people together despite the COVID-19 pandemic. It didn’t happen, largely thanks to TikTok users and others working in various ways to snap up the free tickets to the rally — and then not show up. As Laupp told Forbes, “I think these Gen Zers made him look bad.”
The message to snap up phantom registrations was spread through K-Pop fans and others. Laupp’s own video putting the callout has been viewed more than a million times. She says that teenagers all over the world, including in Australia, were registering for tickets.
There’s also comedian Sarah Cooper, whose excellent impersonations of Trump highlighting his most bizarre comments have been going viral for some time now. She recently told The Project that the videos show people that Trump “really has no idea” what he’s talking about.
“When we have an older, rich, white guy in suit with people nodding behind him and people calling him ‘sir’, we just automatically think, well what he’s saying must make sense.”
And from TikTok management itself, there’s the head of US operations, Vanessa Pappas, who has said in response to Trump banning the platform that: “We’re not planning on going anywhere.”
“TikTok is a home for creators and artists to express themselves, their ideas and connect with people across different backgrounds. And we are so proud of all the various communities that call TikTok their home.”
She also thanked users and the platform’s 1500 US-based staff, and said it could potentially hire 10,000 more over the next three years.
Meanwhile, influential TikTok users are already making their own fun of the potential ban. And they’re also sharing information on how to use a Virtual Private Network if the platform’s banned in your country.
Influencer Claudia Conway who, as the daughter of George and Kellyanne Conway is particularly cutting with her anti-Trump activism, responded to the Trump ban announcement with: “yo Donald Trump, if you wanted to ban my tiktoks so badly why didn’t you just say so?”
Microsoft is currently in talks to buy Tiktok’s operations in the US, as well as potentially in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has recently declared he’s looking “very closely” at TikTok, with security agencies currently assessing the platform.