White House press secretary Jen Psaki hosted a summit of TikTok influencers Thursday for a thinly veiled discussion on coordinated propaganda covering the crisis in Ukraine and 2016 election hacking.
Psaki invited 30 popular content creators from the Chinese owned social media app to discuss the White House’s “strategic goals” regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Those TikTok stars were selected by the nonprofit group Gen Z For Change which has a partnership with the administration.
Joined by members of the National Security Council, Psaki discussed how the U.S. was actively declassifying information to get ahead of potential Russian disinformation claims.
“We recognize how important your platforms are,” Psaki said, “and how important it is to provide as much accurate information as possible to all the people who are using their voices and their platforms to project accurate information.”
SCOOP: The Biden administration has been briefing dozens of TikTok stars about the war in Ukraine, I obtained audio of yesterday’s big briefing which shines light on how the administration is promoting their messaging w/ creators https://t.co/nTfFVlDYzI
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) March 11, 2022
“Because,” she went on, “the best antidote to disinformation is the truth. One of the big steps we’ve taken, and made a decision to take is to declassify information over the course of the last several months.”
White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty said on the call, “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.”
Presumably, Flaherty considers himself part of that “authoritative source” with these posts after the meeting which included one where he wrote, “This video has like 19 million videos…” and, “Just because its not a person at a desk on TV doesn’t mean its not info people are trusting about the world.”
This video has like 19 million videos on TikTok (not even counting Youtube/Twitter). That’s…11x the avg viewers of the top cable network in Feb. Just because its not a person at a desk on TV doesn’t mean its not info people are trusting about the world. https://t.co/ElGybJXQlf
— Rob Flaherty (@RFlaherty46) March 11, 2022
He went on to tweet, “so anyway. think of comms as a print and tv thing at your peril.”
Flaherty’s warning is worth heeding as Psaki went on in the meeting to state, “If you look back at 2014, and frankly even 2016, when Russia invaded Ukraine and then in 2016, when they, you know, of course, hacked our election here, we did not do that. Right? We did not declassify information.”
As was covered, the hacking that was investigated involved servers at the Democratic National Committee and emails for the Clinton campaign, not voting machines or software that may have altered the results of the 2016 election.
However, those facts haven’t stopped this narrative from cropping back up recently. President Joe Biden glossed over a question related to the 2016 hacking narrative in a recent interview on the crisis in Ukraine.
Brian Tyler Cohen asked Biden, “In terms of these sanctions, we’ve seen sanctions get imposed on Putin, after Georgia in 2008, after Crimea in 2014, election hacking in 2016…”
“Nothing like this, though,” Biden responded about the sanctions without addressing the hacking claim. It is evident that the perceived solution of the Biden administration for all that ails the American public is to craft a narrative to try and convince those who don’t look past the surface that everything is fine.
hashtag diplomacy has been replaced with TikTok Dance diplomacy
— SophisticatedVaccinatedProcrastinated (@WarDamnGunners) March 11, 2022
New way of spreading propaganda smh https://t.co/lUWSdFo1rf
— ʟᴀ ᴊᴇғᴇ (@izwanf7) March 11, 2022
I feel so safe and secure now!
— Veronica Gaddy (@verc33) March 11, 2022
It would be far easier to dismiss this news if not for the repeated concerns over national security that TikTok has posed through their connections between China and the Democratic Party and the multiple lawsuits that attorneys general have filed over the harm that could come from kids using the app.
Again, the Biden administration’s concerns are not with the American people, but with how the American people and the world perceive them.
if only you guys cared as much about Americans struggling to afford gas as you did about influencers on a Chinese app https://t.co/mvYaNLfv6t
— Abigail Marone 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) March 11, 2022
Ukraine: Please give us aid. Russia is invading us and we desperately need help.
— Abigail Marone 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) March 11, 2022
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