They Should Have Seen This Coming

I’m a bit skeptical about the degree to which this may have affected Trump’s rally in Tulsa, but this is going to affect the Trump Campaign by forcing it to expend time and effort that they may not be competent to spend.

It’s a technically challenging problem, which is usually answered by attaching a cost to the transaction. [nyt]

TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally

Did a successful prank inflate attendance expectations for President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla.?

If that is in fact what happened it shows that the organizers (if that is the right word) of the event did a remarkably bad job of modeling threats against the event. It’s a fairly predictable attack, and it was magnified by the internet and the fact that there are a lot of people who hate Trump.

Brad Parscale, the chairman of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, posted on Twitter on Monday that the campaign had fielded more than a million ticket requests, but reporters at the event noted the attendance was lower than expected. The campaign also canceled planned events outside the rally for an anticipated overflow crowd that did not materialize.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said protesters stopped supporters from entering the rally, held at the BOK Center, which has a 19,000-seat capacity. Reporters present said there were few protests.

Could it be that Brad Parscale is a clueless noob about the internet? Looking over his online history, he doesn’t appear to have much security chops (i.e.: any) so perhaps it’s possible. But this is just … dumb.

TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Mr. Trump’s campaign rally as a prank. After the Trump campaign’s official account @TeamTrump posted a tweet asking supporters to register for free tickets using their phones on June 11, K-pop fan accounts began sharing the information with followers, encouraging them to register for the rally – and then not show.

Normally, this would be handled the way Ticketron and Google and anyone competent does it: you have to register, then an email gets sent to the address that is registering, requiring a call-back before the account is made live. That’s still really easy to get around if you own a domain or ten like I do, but it raises the bar past the level where a casual troll is going to think it’s worth doing. Also, you’d probably fingerprint the browser-ID and IP(s) of the system doing the sign-up and if it looks like there are multiple sign-ups from the same source, you start slowing them down. No need to disable them, just make them slower the more scripted they appear to be. Or, another trick is to have recaptchas start popping up on any connection from an IP address that is already in a database. Coding this sort of stuff is not particularly difficult if you think of it before your site goes live.

Considering the massive amounts of money that political campaigns spend on silly stuff like sushi for the staffers, or cheesy pins and buttons (i.e.: proto-litter) it seems like getting this right in advance should have been affordable.

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Probably the most solid way to lock something like this down would be to request a credit card to reserve a seat, and clearly state that if the ticket is not scanned at the entry to the event, the credit card will be charged $50 or $500 or whatever. A true believer who wants to reserve a seat would have no problem with shelling out nothing, because they plan to show up, but a troll could face gigantic credit card bills. Of course, you could use a stolen credit card but the credit card companies’ validation systems are getting very good at fraud detection and a credit card is a fair proxy for identity in the internet age. (Most of internet identity is just a layer of kludgy scum atop credit cards – a thing the credit card companies have been too stupid to capitalize on)


  1. komarov says

    Cor, look at them – as few as there are relative to the seating area – cluster together. No masks either, unless they’re all lost to low image resolution and just happen to be flesh-toned. Is it possible to engage in biological warfare against yourself? Who are you supposed to charge with terrorism in that situation? I don’t expect everyone there to drop dead in three weeks time, of course, but this is the country where the supreme leader suggested to make the pandemic go away by not looking for pandemic victims.
    Not to be confused with that other country, the “Pandemic? What pandemic? one. No, I’m not quite sure which one I mean either.

  2. dangerousbeans says

    isn’t rejection of expert advice and knowledge a symptom of fascism? this sort of shit is always going to happen, because they aren’t curious and humble enough to acknowledge they don’t know things and go seek information or advice.

  3. John Morales says

    I’m a bit skeptical about the degree to which this may have affected Trump’s rally in Tulsa

    Indeed. They were flogging tickets to all and sundry, but that didn’t stop actual wannabe attendees from getting them or from turning up. At most, they might have thought there would be no seats at the main venue and expected to be outside.

    Now, if there had been reserved tickets and no more sold after capacity was reached, that claim might have some basis.

    isn’t rejection of expert advice and knowledge a symptom of fascism?

    Not really. That’s more a symptom of deranged autocrats and their upper echelons.

    Cor, look at them – as few as there are relative to the seating area – cluster together.

    Well, yes — when people get to choose their own seating, they prefer to get the best view possible, so choose the closest seats to the stage.

    But sure, those are the True Believers, so they’re not that worried about this overhyped contagion.

    BTW, interesting take from Vanity Fair about those here:

  4. Dunc says

    isn’t rejection of expert advice and knowledge a symptom of fascism?

    Well, yeah, but… Like tiredness and headaches, it’s a symptom of a lot of things, and not usefully diagnostic on its own.

  5. Ridana says

    I think this misses the point. What they did probably had little to no effect on the rally attendance itself, but since the number of “tickets” available were unlimited, that was not the goal. What it did accomplish was to make the campaign look foolish, because apparently no one was doing any real time analysis of all that “data” they were salivating over, and they went on all the news programs crowing about how they had a million people sign up, and it was going to be the biggest ever rally, and they spent resources preparing for a large crowd, showing that they believed their own hype. So while they probably didn’t have much effect on whether people came, they did succeed in making the campaign look like fools, and best of all, since Der Fuhrer bought it too, because of course he would, I think expectation vs reality contributed to his defeated walk of shame afterward.
    Also, this was hardly done in secret. It was organized in the open all week, with forum tips on how to get fake phone numbers and email, and sharing successful sign-up efforts. Team Bunko just never noticed them. The media didn’t notice them, though they should have. Their kids did though. Never underestimate fan networks. Hell, Gamergate should have taught that lesson in spades, on the evil side of things.
    It’s not the first time they’ve pricked the pricks like this (they’re like a public Anonymous now, except they seem to actually be doing things). In the early days of this cycle of protests, they killed the #AllLivesMatter hashtag and its alternates by bombing it with their fan videos of K-pop boy bands, and broke the Austin police’s snitch app for awhile. These sound meaningless, but they’re not. They’re bright spots in a sea of gloom, and it’s great propaganda that the media can’t resist, no less than ordinary citizens showing their resistance by drawing buck teeth and googly eyes on all the images of the despots they can’t confront head on. Sure, they’re easily defended against on a technical level, but no one bothers, or even thinks to, because teenage fangirls are not on their radar. They are less easily defended against on a PR level. Like wearing masks, letting a bunch of girls pwn you looks weak to people who worship dominance. Bunko Baby could try to sic the FBI or DOJ on them, but that would be terrible optics even to his worshipers, so hopefully they remain safe.

  6. says

    “Could it be that Brad Parscale is a clueless noob about the internet?”

    I was aware this was happening without even having to look into it, but I guess that happened because I’m an SJW locked tight in an bubble unlike those gloriously free conservative minds that follow all sorts of people they disagree with.

  7. brucegee1962 says

    From what I’ve read, the ticket sign-up wasn’t really for “tickets” at all — they were planning all along on letting everyone who showed up into the arena first-come, first-in, without bothering about e-tickets at all. The purpose of the online signup was actually all about getting contact info for true believers, so they could bombard them with propaganda while bypassing social media platforms that are starting to demand pesky things like accuracy and decency.
    But then, as Ridana said, the event planners thought it might be a good way of finding out how many people were coming, and they believed their own propaganda. Big mistake.

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