To get ahead of misinformation and spread its messaging, the Biden administration on Thursday briefed 30 top TikTok stars on key information regarding the war in Ukraine, The Washington Post reports.
The online influencers received updates about the U.S.' "strategic goals in the region" while National Security Council staffers and White House Press Secretary Jen 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."
TikTok, a video-based social media platform popular among Gen Z, has become a massive news-gathering outlet for those hoping to make sense of what's happening in Ukraine, the Post writes.
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And meanwhile, the White House has been "closely watching" TikTok arrive on the news scene, "leading to its decision to approach a select group of the platform's most influential names," writes the Post.
During the briefing, officials "stressed the power these creators had in communicating with their followers," the Post, writes per a recording of the call.
"We recognize this is a critically important avenue in the way the American public is finding out about the latest," said White House director of digital strategy, Rob Flaherty, "so we wanted to make sure you had the latest information from an authoritative source."
Afterward, several influencers told the Post "they felt more empowered to debunk misinformation and communicate effectively about the crisis"; TikTok has been inundated with false information regarding the war since the fighting began.
Jules Suzdaltsev, however, a Ukrainian-born journalist who runs a popular TikTok page, told the Post that he felt like the administration was dodging the hard questions. "The energy of the call felt like a press briefing for kindergartners," he said.
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