‘You Know Your Audience’: Russia’s Internet Stars Turn Away From Putin
- June 30, 2020
MOSCOW — Ksenia Hoffman, a Russian video blogger, says another blogger passed along an offer back in March: Was she interested in putting up an Instagram post mentioning the coming referendum on President Vladimir V. Putin’s amendments to the Constitution?
“They’ll pay well for it,” she recalls the blogger saying.
Ms. Hoffman, 22, says she turned down the offer. The appearance of carrying the Kremlin’s message, she said, increasingly risks staining an internet influencer’s image. And that has “serious consequences for ad sales.”
“The public mood has really changed,” said Ms. Hoffman, who has 800,000 followers on YouTube.
Among the constitutional amendments in the vote is one that lays a legal foundation for Mr. Putin to stay in office until 2036. The Kremlin looks assured of victory in the referendum, which ends Wednesday, but its desperate-looking scramble in recent weeks imploring Russians to vote lays bare a more fundamental challenge: For many people, Mr. Putin has lost his aura as the unshakable and irreplaceable leader of his nation.
K-pop stans and teens on TikTok are trolling Trump again
First they emptied out his Tulsa re-election campaign rally, and now teens on TikTok are coming for Donald Trump’s social media accounts. Users on the video sharing app are planning to mass report – where multiple people report at once – the president’s Twitter and Instagram accounts tomorrow (June 27) in an attempt to get him blocked from the platforms.
Hannah Testa, age 17, is the author of “Taking on the Plastics Crisis,” Pocket Change Collective, Penguin. It’s available for pre-order for October. She’s led successful environmental campaigns in Georgia and nationally. The book includes her story as a young activist as well as information about plastic pollution. Our interview augments the information about plastics and tactics for changemakers in her book.
Gen Z Will Not Save Us
The kids aren’t all right. The kids are fed up.
Opinion writer at large.
As it became certain that President Trump’s 2020 kickoff event in Tulsa, Okla., would fall well short of its expected sellout crowd, teenagers around America and K-pop fans took a victory lap. Times reporters pointed to a weeklong viral campaign by TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music (K-pop) groups to sabotage the rally. The online communities claimed to have registered for hundreds of thousands of tickets for the event to flood the Trump campaign with fake data and inflate crowd-size expectations. One part prank, one part protest.
The Trump rally troll helped cement a narrative among a number of online liberals. Just as millennials were clumsily dubbed the avocado-toast-loving, industry-killing generation, the Gen Z stereotype is an equally reductive portrait: a sardonic, nihilist, climate-change-conquering group of social media vigilantes, righteously trolling for social justice (and roasting millennials in the process). Gen Z may just save us all, the theory goes — or at least save us from another four years of Donald Trump.
It’s a comforting thought in these unstable times. But reality is far more complicated. The kids aren’t all right (though many are). The kids are fed up. More specifically, Generation Z is disillusioned by a country and its myriad institutions whose moral arc seems to bend toward corruption and stagnation. It is also, like any generation, not monolithic. And the way that its justified disillusion will play politically, culturally and socially is unknown.
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.
“K-pop Twitter and Alt TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly. They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”