Why White House officials had a meeting with TikTok creators

The White House attempts to reach young people through TikTok
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 7:21 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Top White House and National Security Council staffers held a briefing about Russia’s war on Ukraine with 30 influential social media content creators.

Nathan Crick, a professor of rhetoric and public affairs at Texas A&M’s Department of Communication, joined First News at Four to discuss how the U.S. and Russia have used TikTok creators to spread information.

The creators chosen for the briefing were chosen because they have a large following of people who go to them for life tips and updates on what’s going on in the world.

“These people are often the first source that a lot of young people,” typically 25 and younger, get an “impression of what’s going on in the world,” explained Crick.

Due to the reach these influencers have on younger Americans, the White House, during both the Trump and Biden Administrations, has tried use these creators to make leaning about current events a part of young people’s lives.

Crick doesn’t think about this in terms of whether it’s a good or bad way for people to get news, but instead he sees social media as a necessary way to reach the younger generations.

Crick warns that people need to be careful of misinformation when dealing with getting news anywhere, emphasizing that this isn’t unique to TikTok. Though Crick says young users are perhaps more savvy than their elders when using social media.

Looking at Russia’s use of social media, Crick points out a distinct difference before and after the war with Ukraine.

Before the war, their propaganda was “used a lot of very clever techniques that actually influenced a lot of American users as well,” said Crick.

But lately things haven’t gone so smoothly.

“You have them trying to celebrate the soldiers on the ground and they have themselves enrolled influencers on their own, but it’s so clumsy that it has become a source of parody and satire in the TikTok community,” explained Crick.

There are clips of Russian influencers side by side, saying the same exact thing, which Crick believes contradicts the creativity of TikTok.

“The whole principle of TikTok is to be creative, to be new, to be cutting edge, and in the Russian context, it’s very hard for them to do that anymore,” he said.

As for the U.S., it remains to be seen whether the White House will accomplish its goals of using TikTok.

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