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Social Media Influencers Are Making A Change

Hello everyone! Let’s talk about a fascinating shift in the political landscape involving some of the most influential voices on social media. Back in 2020, hundreds of top TikTok content creators rallied behind Joe Biden, working tirelessly to help him win the election against Donald Trump. They posted videos, hosted online events, and educated their followers on why they believed Biden was the right choice. Fast forward four years, and that same coalition, now called Gen-Z for Change, has yet to endorse Biden for his reelection. Why the change of heart? Let’s dive in!

Aidan Kohn-Murphy, the founder of Gen-Z for Change, shed some light on the situation. According to Aidan, Biden is “out of step with young people on a number of key issues.” This frustration among young progressive leaders is seen as a sign of widespread dissatisfaction among Gen Z voters. Across platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch, there’s a noticeable sense of anger and resentment toward Biden. These young content creators feel betrayed by Biden’s positions on various issues, including the war in Gaza, the climate crisis, and his support for a potential TikTok ban.

When Biden first took office, the White House made a concerted effort to build relationships with Gen Z content creators. They worked together to promote the coronavirus vaccine rollout and briefed them on key issues like the war in Ukraine. Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Matt Miller, a special adviser at the White House National Security Council, even told influencers that Biden viewed them as the “new media” and wanted to keep them informed.

Recently, however, there seems to have been a shift in strategy. Influencers like Kahlil Greene, a history content creator and education advocate, noticed that the White House events now seem to favor those who are very pro-Biden and merely echo his talking points. Those who have been critical of the administration, like Greene himself, find themselves left out.

Annie Wu Henry, a political influencer and digital strategist, agrees. She pointed out that while the White House used to treat creators as independent media, they now seem to be playing favorites. Henry emphasized that unlike the press briefing room, which must include all media, the White House can choose which influencers to invite.

This selective approach has had noticeable consequences for Biden. According to social media analytics firm CredoIQ, nearly a quarter of top left-leaning content creators on TikTok have posted anti-Biden content in the first four months of this year, amassing over 100 million views. Many of these creators are young, non-White liberals who share the belief that the U.S. government, and specifically Biden, wants to stifle free speech and information. This sentiment is particularly strong among pro-Palestine young progressives, who are outraged by Biden’s support for Israel’s actions in Gaza.

A recent report by Morning Consult found that two-thirds of Gen Z voters are less likely to vote for Biden due to his support for a potential TikTok ban. Other issues like his handling of the war in Israel and his approval of new oil and gas drilling projects on federal land have also turned off significant portions of this demographic.

Despite these challenges, the White House insists that it continues to engage with creators who hold a variety of viewpoints, including those who disagree with them on important issues. They claim to have taken historic steps to engage digital creators and aim to continue elevating their voices.

Influencers like Hassan Khadair and Elise Joshi, who once passionately supported Biden, now feel the president needs to earn their vote. Khadair, with millions of followers across multiple platforms, said, “He has to earn that vote. We’re not just going to give it to him because we don’t want Trump to win. We did that once. We’re not doing it twice.”

Joshi echoed this sentiment, pointing to Biden’s climate policies and the ongoing pandemic response as areas where she feels let down. She noted that while the White House climate office recently reached out to her, she prefers substantial policy discussions over event invitations.

Alaina Wood, another Gen Z content creator, feels similarly disillusioned. She noticed that as soon as she stopped praising Biden and started criticizing his policies, communication from the administration ceased. She doubts that Biden’s latest attempts to recruit influencers will significantly boost his support among young voters.

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