According to reports in the United States media, White House officials held a special briefing on the conflict in Ukraine for approximately 30 social media creators, indicating that the Biden administration is increasingly experimenting with new methods of communication in order to reach younger audiences with its message.
On Saturday, Bloomberg tweeted; “White House officials including Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefed about 30 social-media influencers on U.S. policy on Ukraine in an effort to counter Russian propaganda.”
CBS News also reported; “The briefing included content creators who have been covering Ukraine on their social media channels including TikTok, YouTube and Twitter.”
“The White House did a briefing on the war in Ukraine for around 30 creators who have been covering it on TikTok and other social-media platforms,” reported the Wall Street Journal.
The briefing, which took place on Thursday, was led by Matt Miller, senior adviser for communications at the White House National Security Council, and Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary. According to The Washington Post, the officials described the United States’ “strategic aims in the region” and answered concerns regarding US help to Ukraine, NATO, and Washington’s probable response to a Russian nuclear strike during a zoom conversation with the social network innovators on Friday.
Participants at the briefing included those who are creating “explanatory” content about the conflict on TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter and were invited to the briefing. According to the Washington Post, which was the first to report the story, the Biden administration has collaborated with Gen Z For Change – a nonprofit organization – to find content makers for the briefing, which will take place on March 1.
Aaron Parnas, the 22-year-old son of Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born American businessman who was a former ally of Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and lawyer for then-President Donald Trump, was among those invited. Earlier this year, Lev Parnas was found guilty of campaign financing violations and pleaded guilty to conspiracy counts.
As the White House director of digital strategy, Rob Flaherty, explained, “we recognize this is a critically important avenue in the way the American public is finding out about the latest,” noting that the administration wanted to “ensure” that social media influencers were getting “the latest information from an authoritative source.”
According to the Washington Post, some influencers stated that they “felt more equipped to dispel falsehoods and speak effectively about the situation” as a result of receiving the briefing. “I’m here to break down the material for my followers in a more palatable manner,” Ellie Zeiler, an 18-year-old with 10.5 million followers on Instagram, told the Washington Post after the briefing concluded. According to the TikTok influencer, “I would consider myself a White House correspondent for Generation Z.”
Others, on the other hand, did not appear to be struck by the occurrence. “The spirit of the call seemed like it was a press briefing for kindergarteners,” said Jules Suzdaltsev, a Ukrainian-born journalist who also runs a famous TikTok channel. “It felt like a news briefing for kindergarteners.” He went on to say that the officials had skirted difficult questions.
The news comes amid a Russian military campaign in Ukraine that is still ongoing. Moscow has accused Kiev of failing to execute the Minsk Agreements, a set of agreements that governed the country’s dealings with the then-rebel territories of the Donbass at the time of the conflict. Russia also claims that the operation was initiated to protect the people of the Donbass republics and to “demilitarize” Ukraine, and that it will continue until the conflict is resolved.
Ukrainian authorities have denounced the operation as a blatantly unprovoked invasion, claiming that they had never intended to assault the two breakaway areas in the first place.
In addition, the US media has stated that a great deal of false information has surfaced on TikTok and other social media platforms throughout the dispute, and that Moscow has apparently paid Russian influencers to distribute videos endorsing the Kremlin’s narrative on social media.
After invoking Russia’s own ‘fake news law,’ which outlaws the dissemination of false information about the Russian military, TikTok prohibited all new content and livestreaming from Russia starting on March 6. When asked at the time, the firm stated that its top priority was “the safety of our personnel and our customers.”
What are your thoughts on the story? Let us know in the comments below!