White House briefs top social media influencers on Ukraine – reports – Reuters

Washington considers it important to explain US ‘strategic goals’ to TikTok influencers with ‘millions of views’, media reports

White House officials held a special briefing on the conflict in Ukraine for about 30 social media creators, US media reported, adding that the Biden administration is increasingly exploring new means of communication. to convey its message to a younger audience.

The briefing was hosted Thursday by White House National Security Council Communications Special Advisor Matt Miller and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Officials explained the United States “strategic objectives in the region” and answered questions about US aid to Ukraine, NATO and Washington’s potential reaction to a Russian nuclear strike, speaking to social media creators in a zoom call, the Washington Post.

The list of people invited to the briefing included people creating “explanatory” content about the conflict on TikTok, YouTube and Twitter. According to the Post, which first broke the story, the Biden administration cooperated with Gen Z For Change — a nonprofit group — to identify content creators for the briefing.

One of the guests was Aaron Parnas, the 22-year-old son of Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman and former associate of Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and lawyer for then-President Donald Trump. Lev Parnas was convicted in October of campaign finance charges and pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

“We recognize that this is a critically important avenue in how the American public discovers the latest novelties,” explained White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty, adding that Washington wanted “make sure” social media influencers get “the latest information from an authoritative source.”

According to the Washington Post, some influencers said after the briefing that they “felt more empowered to debunk misinformation and communicate the crisis effectively.” “I’m here to relay the information in a more digestible way to my subscribers”, Ellie Zeiler, 18, who has 10.5 million followers, told the Washington Post after the briefing. “I would consider myself a White House pen pal for Gen Z,” added the TikTok influencer.

Others, however, seemed unimpressed with the event. “The energy of the call felt like a press briefing for kindergarten kids,” said Jules Suzdaltsev, a Ukrainian-born journalist who also operates a popular TikTok channel. Officials had dodged tough questions, he added.

TikTok blocks content from Russia

The development comes amid ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. Moscow has accused Kyiv of failing to implement the Minsk Accords – a set of agreements governing its relations with the then-rebellious regions of Donbass. The Kremlin also claims to have launched the operation to protect the inhabitants of the Donbass republics and to “demilitarize” Ukraine.

Kiev has blasted the operation as a completely unprovoked invasion and argues that it never planned to attack the two breakaway regions in the first place.

US media also claimed that many misinformation had surfaced on TikTok and other social media amid the dispute, and that Moscow allegedly paid Russian influencers to share videos promoting the Kremlin narrative.

TikTok blocked all new content and live streams from Russia starting March 6, citing Russia’s own “False News Law” which prohibits spreading false information about the Russian military. The company insisted at the time that it prioritized “the safety of our employees and our users.”

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