On May 31 2020, the following tweet offered “a story in 4 acts” — Dallas Police requesting recordings of purported “illegal activity” during protests over the death of George Floyd, two tweets from fans of the popular musical genre Kpop encouraging others to “send their fancams” to the app to jam it, and a fourth tweet in which @DallasPD admitted their iWatch app was experiencing “technical difficulties”:
The story spread quickly, in part as commentary on the general odd constellations of activity in the year 2020:
What Is Kpop?
Korean pop music and popular culture.
What are ‘stans’?
“Stans” are “overzealous” fans of any given thing, the name coming from the Eminem song “Stan” (a dark track about an obsessive fan).
What are fancams?
Now we’re getting a little more arcane. Fancams are closely associated with the very emphatic and enthusiastic Kpop fan base:
Basically, a fancam is footage focusing on a single member of a band, usually while the group is performing. It can also be used for solo artists, because different fans will capture different points of view of the same event. Any fan’s footage can be a fancam, though many die-hards like to follow fansites for more professional footage of their favorite member. Fansites are websites run by one or multiple fans who are dedicated to one specific idol or group.
How Did It All Go Down?
In the early hours of May 31 2020, @DallasPD asked via Twitter for anyone with recordings, footage, audio, or images of “illegal activity” to anonymously submit it to the Dallas Police Department via an app called iWatch:
At some point after that, in a deleted but widely shared tweet, a Twitter user asked her followers to download the app and send fancams and other content to the app — effectively preventing police from identifying protesters. Links to the tweet lived on in retweets:
Although that person later deleted the tweet, it was not because she intended to discourage the action. She later retweeted and tweeted about possible identification of participants through tracking data and app permissions:
It isn’t exactly clear when the initial tweets by Kpop stans began. But the “send as many fancams” tweet above was published at 6:38 PM on May 31 2020. As of 7:26 PM, the Dallas Police Department indicated their iWatch app (called a “snitch app” by people involved in the discourse) was “down temporarily” owing to “technical difficulties”:
So, Did K-Pop Stans Thwart @DallasPD’s iWatch ‘Snitch App’?
It is true that not long after K-Pop stans banded together to flood Dallas Police’s iWatch app with fancams, @DallasPD took the app down and reported “technical difficulties.” It’s possible that mass action involving a flood of unwanted, irrelevant content led to the app being taken offline, or that related “spamming” of the app frustrated the department. It is also true that Kpop stans responded to the call, and true that the app was subsequently taken down. The order of events as provided is correct, even if the exact reasons @DallasPD took the app down remained unknown.