Minneapolis City Council has unanimously approved payment for six social media influencers to run city-approved posts and updates throughout the upcoming murder trial of a former officer., who was charged with the death of George Floyd. The council on Friday approved $ 1,181,500 for communication with the community during the trial, CBS Minnesota reports.
The city says social media partners will help dispel possible misinformation and that influencers will intentionally target Black, Native American, Somali, Hmong and Latinx communities with their posts. Each influencer will receive $ 2,000.
The objective is “to improve access to information to communities which generally do not follow traditional information sources or city communication channels and / or who do not consume information in English”, Minneapolis City Council said in a statement. “It is also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the City and the communities”.
City council has not finalized how it will choose influencers, but said the selections will be based on recommendations from the city’s neighborhood and community relations staff.
Some activists and lawyers are concerned about the decision.
Toussaint Morrison, an activist with over 11,000 Instagram users, uses his platform to educate the community. He is worried about the prejudices behind the information that will come from an influencer funded by the city.
“The key word here is ‘city approved’,” Morrison said. “What do you think the message will be? It will probably be pro-city. It will be anti-protest.”
Sarah Davis, executive director of the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis, said the council’s decision sends a clear message.
“It really reflects the fact that they know there is a lack of trust between the community and the institutions in the city and it’s real. Let’s be honest about it, it’s real,” Davis said.
His firm plans to offer legal expertise and questions and answers during the trial.
“What we’re really trying to do is help people understand what they’re going to see, answer questions about it,” Davis said.
The city council plans to discuss more details of the new positions in a public briefing online Monday at 10 a.m.
Floyd’s death last year sparked outrage and unrest in Minneapolis and across the country, with violence and looting in some cities. Many demonstrated peacefully.