INFORMATION WAR: White House turns to TikTokers to combat Putin’s lies and propaganda

For many people, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just an ordinary war, it is also an information war. Like dictators before him, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a well-oiled propaganda machine that spins lies to Russians and the world about Ukraine. Now it looks like the US is indulging in a bit of propaganda itself, eschewing mainstream media for TikTok.

The social media platform has proven to be a key avenue for news over the past few years. We’ve seen everything from helping with accidents to racist behavior captured on the rig. In Ukraine too, he gave the world several reports like TIkTokers in the record of the country living in the war zone. For example, TikToker @Valerisssh went viral in early March for their videos showing life in a bombed-out Chernihiv.

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Due to the key role of social media, it seems the Biden administration wants to tap into influencers to spread the word about what is really happening on the ground. We’ve seen this before, with Covid-19, but this time the White House isn’t just fighting the anti-vaxxers, but the well-oiled Kremlin propaganda machine.

A young man casts a shadow as he walks past an advertisement for social media company TikTok on September 21, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The White House meets the TikTokers

Led by Press Secretary Jen Psaki and National Security Council Special Communications Advisor Matt Miller, the White House met with about 30 social media influencers on March 10, 2022, via Zoom. The 30 were identified by Gen Z For Change, a nonprofit advocacy group, The Washington Post reported. The meeting was to provide information on the war in Ukraine, with Kahlil Greene saying they were encouraged “to use our platform to highlight different issues as they arise, especially when mainstream media don’t do it”.

The briefing focused on three key topics: working with allies, direct assistance to Ukraine and how Biden was trying to prevent a larger war. This move is partly necessary because the Russian propaganda machine continues to spread lies, despite social media’s best efforts to quell it. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account, for example, has pledged to spread lies like Ukraine using human shields, and the United States is preparing toxic chemical weapons in the country. Those tweets are still up and have seen hundreds of retweets despite multiple calls from Twitter users for the social media giant to delete the account.

Among those the White House met with were Aaron Parnas, Marcus J. DiPaola, Jules Terpak and Greene. All four repeated the White House talking points on their social media, reaching millions of followers in an instant. The move is certainly commendable, given that the White House has also repeated the message at regular press briefings. However, it seems that these press conferences are not having as much effect as they would have hoped.

End of traditional media?

Plus, it looks like the White House is looking to target a wider range of people, which is why TikTok is so vital. “The @WhiteHouse, which provides open and causal questions and answers to creators, is a no-brainer. TikTok is the media app many young people click on first after unlocking their phone,” Terpak tweeted. Greene echoed that sentiment, telling the Post, “People of my generation get all of our information from TikTok.”



A recording of the call also heard White House officials acknowledging that fact. “We recognize that this is a critically important avenue in how the American public learns about the latest…so we wanted to make sure you have the latest information from an authoritative source,” said White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty. said according to The Post. Of course, Biden isn’t the only one to weaponize social media, Donald Trump has also been an avid user of platforms like Twitter and YouTube to get his message across, and until recently Putin was also using Russian influencers to spread lies about Ukraine. .

Whatever happens in Ukraine is likely to go down in history as the first “information war”, with TikTokers playing key roles, almost as vital as those taking up arms to defend Ukraine. .

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