With protests and riots erupting in more than a hundred cities across the US, massive crowds of people are taking to the streets to demonstrate against police violence and racism. But K-pop fans are protesting in their own way, by overwhelming a police app designed to let citizens report crimes by spamming it with video tributes to their favorite idols.
On Sunday, K-pop fan accounts on social media targeted the Dallas Police’s iWatch Dallas app, which allows users to submit videos of alleged crimes. The Dallas police began promoting the app on Twitter during the escalating protests over the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people across the country.
In response, K-pop fan accounts began calling on their massive followings to flood the app with videos of their favorite K-pop groups to overwhelm police trying to identify protesters. Shortly after, the Dallas Police’s Twitter account announced that the app had been temporarily taken down “due to technical difficulties.”
“MAKE THEIR JOBS AS HARD AS POSSIBLE!!! GET THEM FRUSTRATED!!! MAKE THEM TAKE DOWN THE APP!!!” tweeted one account while encouraging followers to download the app. Other accounts replied to the Dallas Police’s tweets with K-pop videos, memes, and GIFs.
On social media, K-pop fans are a force to be reckoned with. They are known for their enthusiastic stanning of Korean idol groups like BTS and BLACKPINK, often responding to completely unrelated posts with videos and memes of their favorite K-pop dreamboats. K-pop fans have also amplified popular protest- and social justice-related hashtags and were instrumental in making tweets published by accounts claiming to be the hacktivist group Anonymous go viral.
As the uprisings against police brutality continued on Sunday, some fans channeled that enthusiasm to stand in solidarity with the protests, encouraging followers not to trend any hashtags and instead use their massive numbers to spread messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Fans also targeted an evidence portal used by police in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is maintained by Axon, the rebranded police tech company infamous for making Taser stun guns.
It’s not the first time online protesters have slowed the gears of state power by flooding tiplines with junk data. Last month, a hacker released a script that enables users to continuously submit fake data to an Ohio website that allowed companies to report employees who refused to come into work during the pandemic. The Ohio state government later announced it would no longer be using the reports to kick people off unemployment, and the submission form was completely removed from its website soon after.