The prank began in early July, just after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration is considering restricting U.S. residents’ access to the Chinese social media app over concerns it was possibly being used by the Beijing government to spy on users.
One TikTok user, Juan Booker, posted a video asking his 750,000 followers to bombard the Trump app with one-star reviews so that it would get removed from the App Store, Bloomberg reported late last month.
Data from the intelligence firm Sensor Tower shows ratings from the Trump campaign app jumping sharply between July 7 and 9. But unbeknownst to Booker or his followers, apparently, was that Apple will not remove apps merely for low ratings. A little-known and infrequently used feature allows app developers to reset the app’s rating – both good and bad. And that’s precisely what the Trump campaign did earlier this month.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtagh told Bloomberg: “TikTok users don’t affect anything we do. What we know is that the Chinese use TikTok to spy on its users.”
While the trolling seems to have persisted despite the reset, its overall impact appears to be diminishing, according to data cited by TechCrunch. As of Monday, the app had an overall rating of 3.8 out of nearly 5,000 ratings. The bad reviews seemed to have reached their peak in mid-July when it received more than 5,380 reviews compared with just below 900 five-star reviews.
Apple has advised against any unnecessary resets given that its good ratings will also be wiped out. On Apple’s Developer website, the company recommended using this feature “sparingly.”
“[W]hile resetting the summary rating can ensure that it reflects the most current version of your app – useful if an update addresses users’ previous concerns – having few ratings may discourage potential users from downloading your app,” the company said.
Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this report.