White House briefs TikTok creators on Ukraine
The White House on Thursday briefed around 30 social media creators covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to multiple media reports.
The briefing was led by White House National Security Council special adviser for communications Matt Miller and press secretary Jen Psaki. News of the briefing was first reported by the Washington Post.
The news comes as users around the world, especially the teenagers and young adults of Gen Z, turn to TikTok to get updates from people on the ground in Ukraine amid war with Russia. The app has played key role in bringing news and current events to its users.
The TikTok creators were briefed on the “strategic goals in the region” while National Security Council staffers and Psaki “answered questions on distributing aid to Ukrainians, working with NATO, and how the United States would react to a Russian use of nuclear weapons.”
An official explained the administration’s reasoning for the briefing to CNN and highlighted the “millions of views” that the creators have garnered while explaining events in Ukraine.
According to a recording of the meeting obtained by The Post, the White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty said that the Biden administration recognizes “this is a critically important avenue in the way the American public is finding out about the latest” and they wanted to make sure the influencers had the “latest information from an authoritative source.”
Ukrainian American TikTok creator Aaron Parnas, who has 1.2 million followers on TikTok, tweeted on Friday that “I still cannot believe how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to attend a White House briefing yesterday to be armed with accurate information about how America is helping Ukraine and our European allies.”
Parnas, who is the son of Rudy Giuliani’s former associate Lev Parnas, told CNN that the White House allowed influencers to ask the administration officials questions “about what people viewing our platforms cared about.”
The White House briefing also comes as TikTok influencers in Russia are reportedly being paid to share videos that promote the Putin government’s narrative surrounding the invasion.
The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
This is not the first time the White House has engaged TikTok creators as a way to counter misinformation.
Last year, the country’s leading infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci, joined several TikTok influencers in a series of conversations in an effort to increase youth vaccination rates across the nation.