As the world has been glued to Eastern Europe, closely following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House has had some creative ideas as to how to inform citizens responsibly about the event. They decided TikTok was the way.
Two weeks ago, the White House held a 30-minute Zoom session with 30 TikTokers to inform them about the situation in Europe. This is not the first time the White House has turned to TikTok: last year, they recruited what the New York Times calls an ‘influencer army’ to make videos encouraging people to get their vaccinations.
This month’s move makes sense, as TikTok videos covering the invasion regularly go viral and it is important to ensure that the information is accurate. The #Ukraine hashtag, for instance, has over 32 billion views. It is also easy to post old videos from different war zones and claim them to be from this current conflict, spreading disinformation to millions of viewers.
One of the TikTok users invited to the session was Jules Suzdaltsev, the Ukrainian-born creator of Good Morning, Bad News, who has 1.1 million followers on the platform.
He told Business Insider that the tone of the meeting wasn’t overly serious or strict, as the White House briefed them about the kind of humanitarian aid they have so far given Ukraine. Still, Suzdaltsev states that he views this as an important step in taking TikTok seriously as a news platform.
It appears that this is yet another development in TikTok’s catapult into the mainstream. Last week, the Cannes Film Festival, on of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, announced that it would be officially partnering with TikTok to offer users behind-the-scenes access to the event.
What started off as a hub for memes and dancing has turned into a platform recognized for its ability to disseminate information and fuel creativity.