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White House Relies on 100s of Social Media Influencers to Promote Biden’s Agenda

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As the Biden White House prepares for the President's unofficial bid for re-election in 2024, the administration is preparing to enlist hundreds of social media ‘influencers’ to promote the President's agenda going insofar as to provide them their own briefing room in the White House.

According to media reports, the initiative seeks to boost the President's standing among young Americans, whom many Democrats see as critical to success in upcoming elections, and to counter 2024 Republican presidential candidates and their social media followings on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Inside the White House, the President's digital strategy team seeks to connect with social media influencers across America to target young Americans who may not follow American politics or the Democratic Party on their social media feed or have tuned out national media entirely. Several Biden digital staffers are focusing on influencers and other independent content creators with aides officially working for the Biden White House to reach out to young and suburban voters.

During the 2020 election, young voters 18-29 preferred Biden over Trump by a 26-margin point and Democrats over Republicans by 28 points in last year's midterms. The head of this effort, Robert Flaherty, stressed the need for the President's campaign team to build up its digital strategy for officials.

Speaking to reporters, Jen O'Malley Dillon, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, said that the administration is "to reach young people, but also moms who use different platforms to get information and climate activists and people whose main way of getting information is digital."

Progressive and Left-leaning content creators are working with the Biden White House, including individuals like Harry Sisson, a 20-year-old New York University (NYU), who breaks down daily political news on TikTok.

Other social media influencers include Boston College Professor Heather Cox Richardson, who has a popular Substack and huge Twitter following, covering political news of the day. Vivian Tu is another social media influencer the Biden White House has recruited to discuss financial topics on TikTok and Instagram, covering financial advice and political issues.

The administration is deciding whether or not influencers should meet in person or remotely, with some saying that the official White House Press Briefing Room would no longer be the administration's only messaging center.

"We actually asked the White House, 'When are we going to get press briefing passes?'" Sisson told reporters. Sisson noted that the administration was "very responsible" when suggested by dozens of influencers who attended a State of Union watch party at the White House. The White House wants to grant influencers the ability to access the President when he is on the road, engaging with local audiences when traveling to their state.

The administration has been particularly courting support for TikTok, despite calls from Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate to ban the app because of its owner's ties to the Chinese government. The administration has remained silent on a potential ban against TikTok, with Progressive Democrat Lawmakers like Jamaal Bowman of New York saying that the drive to ban TikTok stems from anti-China "hysteria."

Before and after the hearing with TikTok's CEO last week, hundreds of social media influencers were in Capitol Hill calling on Republican and Democrat lawmakers not to ban the app, despite the growing evidence of the Chinese government's influence and privacy rights violations.

Despite the calls by many progressive voting groups and Democrat politicians to get out the youth vote, analysis from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) found that the National Youth Turnout in America is at 23 percent, making it lower than in the historic 2018 cycle (28 percent) which "broke records for turnout, but much higher than in 2014 when only 13 percent of youth voted."

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