Ellie Zeiler and other tiktokers recruited by US to spread news about Ukraine



Who has more power over the minds of the very young: a world-famous newspaper or the videos of a 19-year-old influencer reaching millions of followers on Tik Tok? In Washington they already know the answer. Even the stones know by now, the information war is fought on social media, before in the newspapers: and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is therefore destined to be the first conflict in which the “power” will be tested on a very large scale. of fire »- to use a term dear to our ex-premier – of the Chinese platform loved by teenagers from all over the globe but not only.

Washington recruits Tik Tok influencers

With the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, millions of people have been turning to TikTok for weeks for real-time information. It was the videos uploaded to the social media that offered some of the first glimpses of the Russian invasion and since then the platform has become one of the main sources of information – true, presumed true or fake news – available to the world population. Moreover, such an initiative is not new: last year the Biden administration had collaborated with dozens of the best TikTok stars to push the population to get vaccinated.

So it happens that last Thursday the 30 most influential TikTok stars of America were summoned to Zoom – after a careful selection – by none other than the staff of the National Security Council and the White House press officer Jen Psaki, in order to receive information. -key on the ongoing war in Ukraine. Psaki and his staff briefed influencers on the main strategic goals of the United States in the region by providing information on the distribution of aid to the Ukrainians, on collaboration with NATO and on how the United States would react to a hypothetical nuclear attack in Moscow. All data that, diligently, influencers will give to the millions of followers around the world.

There is also a think tank to select the best

According to reports from the Washington Post, to select the most popular influencers willing to take up the challenge of global indoctrination, the Biden administration has signed a collaboration agreement with Gen Z For Change, a group created in order to identify the best creators of content on the platform and put them in contact with the White House. Kahlil Greene, 21, 534,000 followers on TikTok, is one of the “chosen ones”. “My generation searches and gets all the information on TikTok,” he explained candidly. “It makes sense that the Biden administration involves people like me.”

The Zoom meeting on Thursday was also attended by Matt Miller, special communications adviser to the White House National Security Council. The Washington Post obtained a recording of the meeting: “We recognize that this [Tik Tok, editor’s note] represents an avenue of fundamental importance regarding how the American public is discovering the latest news on the conflict,” said the director of strategy. White House digital, Rob Flaherty, addressing the tiktokers, “so we wanted to make sure you got the latest information from an authoritative source.”

Tik Tok stars stand at attention

The tiktokers involved in the project are obviously thrilled. Like Jules Terpak, who writes essays on digital culture on the Chinese platform. “Those who have an audience can ideally set the way in which the public will decide to spread what they see online.” Within hours of the meeting ending, influencers started messaging their millions of followers. Like Ellie Zeiler, an 18-year-old TikTok star with over 10.5 million followers. “I’m here to pass the information on in a more digestible way to my followers,” she said. “I consider myself a White House correspondent for Generation Z.” How to tickle the ego of a teenager and influence the opinion of millions of other adolescents at no cost at virtually no cost. And we are still here writing articles …

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