Minneapolis officials will be paying six locally popular social media influencers to disseminate messages in an effort to deter riots during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer charged with the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin’s trial is set to begin on March 8.
On Friday, $1,181,500 was secured for the plan to keep the community calm. The influencers will be communicating specifically with black, Native American, and Latin American communities among other minority communities. Each one of the social media personalities will be paid $2,000, according to WCCO.
“The City is collaborating with social media partners to share public information with cultural communities and to help dispel potential misinformation during the upcoming trials of the former officers involved in the killing of George Floyd,” stated the Minneapolis City Council.
The Council says that their goal is to: “Increase access to information to communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or City communications channels and/or who do not consume information in English. It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the City and communities. The recommendations for which social media messengers to partner with come from the City’s Neighborhood and Community Relations staff. The agreements with the social media partners have not been finalized. The City is adhering to procurement requirements for the selection and contracting processes.”
Some people have expressed concern over possible bias involved in this plan.
“The thing that is unique here is that you’re actually talking about individual people who are considered influencers that then become authorities,” Blois Olson, a local political analyst told KSTP. “Or they’re using taxpayer dollars to pay a person, and what’s that’s person’s politics? What’s that person’s agenda?”
“It’s a unique strategy for the city to compensate influencers to comment. But we’re in an era of great distrust, and everyone has different sources they trust,” he said.
It’s not clear what social media platforms the influencers will use.
Toussaint Morrison, a Minneapolis community activist expressed his concern to KSTP: “If you go through lengths and measures to buy a narrative, what does that say about the leadership and trust that has been eroded in the past few years?” he said.
“You buy people to tell you that your emotions aren’t valid, or that you should stay home and not protest, or that certain things are more important than justice. So I really feel that them trying to buy the narrative from social media influencers is really disappointing,” he added.