The plan seemed simple enough: The city of Minneapolis intended to seek the help of several key community influencers in hopes of tackling disinformation on social media and easing possible tensions as the trial for the murder that sparked the racial showdown around the world begins. And for that, the city would each pay them $ 2,000.
With The selection of the jury began on Monday at the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer facing charges of murder in the death of George Floyd, city officials, nervous about spreading misinformation that could lead to riots and violence, hoped to use the power and reach of social media as the best defense.
The community’s response was swift – and the withdrawal came as quickly as the criticism.
The Minneapolis strategy was a “terrible execution” of a good idea, he said Karen North, a professor in the digital social media program at the University of Southern California.
“I agree with the premise, their idea is absolutely correct because false information spreads very quickly, especially in the digital world, and flammable information spreads even faster than the calm boring truth,” North said. “But Minneapolis did it in a way that made it look like propaganda.”
Andrea Jenkins, a Minneapolis council member whose department where Floyd was killed is, believes in the reach and role of social media, while acknowledging that the use of the term “influences on social media” was a “bad choice of words”.
“It was never about spreading any kind of propaganda,” Jenkins said. “The reality is that social media is a dominant part of our society, so it’s not really clear to me why the city shouldn’t communicate this way.”
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This discussion about the use of technology comes while Minneapolis is feverish taking precautions against potential riots around the trial. Chauvin pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. The introductory arguments in the closely monitored trial will begin on March 29.
Floyd, who was black, was killed on May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, was seen in a widespread video of a smartphone nailing his knee to Floyd’s handcuffs with handcuffs on his hands for nearly nine minutes because Floyd said he could not breathe. . Chauvin and three other police officers seen in the still unavoidable video on social media have been fired.
The incident sparked global unrest against racial injustice and police brutality.
Protests, talks and calls for the authorities to become more accountable through various social media platforms over Floyd’s death have re-incorporated the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, into the global call for justice. As a result, the organization was nominated for 2021. Nobel Peace Prize.
Minneapolis Social Media Plan
The Minneapolis City Council had it last week approved nearly $ 1.2 million in funding from several community organizations during the trial as part of its Joint Information System program created after the outrage and destruction of Floyd’s death.
One of the elements of the plan included the employment of six “influencers” from the black, Somali / East African, Indian, Hmong and Hispanic communities who have a “large presence on social media”. Impacts would share “messages generated and approved by cities” on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts about the closure of roads and buildings, as well as the rejection of any misinformation about the trial.
And each influencer would be paid $ 2,000 under the plan, Minneapolis officials said.
“Our recommendations were to look for additional ways to provide that kind of information to all residents,” the Minneapolis city government e-mail to elected leaders last week reads. “We’ve also heard from our communities that if we ask them to help share information, we should honor their work and compensate them.”
And, during briefing which aired on March 1, Minneapolis Neighborhood and Community Relations Director David Rubedor reiterated a similar sentiment with the goal of “sharing timely and accurate information” and building two-way communication channels ”and understanding what happens in real time with communities.
These people would include local community leaders, organizations, and groups that are “on earth,” towards the city.
But North, a professor at USC, said in particular the influences from social media in Minneapolis, which she believes are more like community and relationship leaders, should not have demanded payment for their services. She said the influences on social media are not similar to Jake and Logan Paul and a number of others who live off the shilling.
North said what these “influencers” have in common is what she calls “3 Rs: Reach, Resonance, and Relevance”. He describes reach as a person with the ability to “reach the target audience and demographic population.” Resonance as “a way to convince yourself enough with your thoughts and opinions that can resonate, otherwise why bother.”
And, relevance, as “someone who is well acquainted with a topic that is timely.”
Also, North said Minneapolis officials also wanted to provide information to as many people from different backgrounds as possible who may not get their information from traditional news sources.
“But when you pay someone to do that, you automatically raise doubts about the viability and authenticity of the information,” she said.
The impact of social media
For more than a decade, technology and social media in particular have played a monumental role from the Arab Spring protests, Occupy Wall Street, the aforementioned Black Lives Matter stuff to the #MeToo movement. Adding to the recent uprisings in China and Lebanon and other social movements around the world, there seems to be no end in sight.
Domestically, about 23% of adult social media users in the United States said they had changed their attitudes about a political or social issue because of something they had seen on social media over the past year, according to Research Pew Research Center conducted in July 2020.
And, seeing something on social media could lead to both positive and negative impacts, North said. For example, she said social media was used to organize mass protests and demonstrations after Floyd’s death, that the media was probably also used to plan a deadly uprising at the U.S. Capitol two months ago.
“What most of us don’t see is that last phase of the organization and it happens on social media and often hides on anonymous and encrypted platforms,” North said. “This is strong enough as a new trend we’re not moving away from.”
And Minneapolis sought to harness that power. However, with so much desire to have some control over public speaking, the city began to lose that control by hiring “influencers,” he said Saif Shahin, assistant professor at the American University. Shahin said that he considers the explanation of the city authorities to be nominal, and the perception still makes them look bad.
“It’s a very sensitive situation, and the very fact that they were trying to hire influencers – that word is burdened – implies that they were trying to influence public sentiment,” said Shahin, who focuses on the relationship between social media and politics. “The fact that they decided that hit, and that’s just the opposite of what they wanted.”
During a briefing broadcast over the internet Minneapolis’ director of neighborhood and community relations, David Rubedor, reiterated a similar sentiment with the goal of “sharing timely and accurate information” and building two-way communication channels “and understanding what is happening to the community in real time.
For Jenkins, she said, it was just a matter of revealing the truth. Her concern about spreading false information also stems from the incident last August that led to restlessness in downtown Minneapolis sparked by rumors on social media that police killed a man suspected of murder. He actually killed himself to avoid being arrested by the police.
Theincidentlead to widespread looting in the area.
“There’s a lot of mistrust towards the city, towards the police, I don’t deny that and people rightly question every move,” Jenkins said. “However, if we want to protect our city, we need everyone to be involved in the process.”
How Minneapolis will use social media
Jenkins and city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie said Wednesday that the city will continue to use social media to share important information with neighborhood residents and partners during the trial of Chauvin and Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Tha, three other police officers also charged in Floyd’s death. The three should go to trial together in August.
City officials also say they will continue to hold weekly live media briefings online and on the city’s official Facebook page about how he is preparing for the Chauvin trial.
In addition, McKenzie said the city is launching a website with public safety and community resources that will have translated content and will update them when they receive feedback and community questions.