TikTok isn’t just for dances anymore. The White House is now using it as part of its propaganda machine.
A group of TikTok influencers will play an important role in giving crucial updates from people on the ground in Ukraine amid the war with Russia.
Hopefully, Biden will not use these influencers to discredit its political opponent.
30 TikTok e-celebs on a Zoom call Thursday with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, White House officials, and National Security Council staffers, presenting them with “key information” about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine to get the Biden administration’s message out to teenagers on the platform.
The Washington Post reports that the virtual meeting comes as millions have turned to the Chinese-owned video-sharing social media platform for information on Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
TikTok, a social media platform popular with younger users that revolves around short videos, has been at the forefront of sources for those seeking on the ground information about what is going on in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country late last month.
Some users in Ukraine have posted videos of what their day looks like in the bomb shelters in which they are temporarily living, while others have posted videos of their bombed cities and shared their stories of fleeing their homes.
Kahlil Greene, 21, a TikTok influencer with more than half a million followers, said he was not surprised that the White House reached out:
“People in my generation get all our information from TikTok. It’s the first place we’re searching up new topics and learning about things.”
Other TikTok stars who were invited were Jules Terpak, who has more than 270,000 followers, and Ellie Zeiler, who has more than 10.5 million followers.
White House director of digital strategy, Rob Flaherty, said about the event.
“We recognize this is a critically important avenue in the way the American public is finding out about the latest, so we wanted to make sure you had the latest information from an authoritative source.”
Zeiler told the Post:
“I’m here to relay the information in a more digestible manner to my followers. I would consider myself a White House correspondent for Gen Z.”
However, Jules Suzdaltsev, a Ukrainian-born journalist with a popular TikTok page, told the Washington Post that he believes the administration avoided tough questions. He said, “The enthusiasm of the call felt like a kindergarten news conference.”
Daily Wire reported that Republicans heavily criticized Biden’s regime of being unserious and wasting its time talking to social media influencers instead of handling the crisis abroad.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House Minority Whip, wrote in a tweet Friday.
“What a joke. This White House—including National Security Council staff—is spending time spreading debunked disinformation about the 2016 election to TikTok stars. Tells you everything you need to know about how unserious they are.”
Wesley Hunt, the Republican nominee for a congressional district near Houston, tweeted:
“Joe Biden can hardly be bothered to take questions from the American people, but the White House is briefing TikTok influencers on Ukraine. We have reached peak idiocracy.”