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White House will host creator economy summit in August

2 weeks ago 31

A day after Joe Biden’s halting performance in the first presidential debate fueled a surge of memes, the White House on Friday unveiled plans to host a first-of-its-kind summit with online content creators in August.

The invite-only White House Creator Economy Conference is intended to give content creators a chance to discuss their priorities with senior administration officials, and will cover subjects including artificial intelligence, privacy, and mental health, according to a White House announcement made at VidCon, an annual gathering of content creators in Anaheim, Calif.

“This is an opportunity for the thousands of creators and industry professionals who think about the creator economy every day to really have a seat at the table,” said Christian Tom, the Biden administration’s director of digital strategy, speaking onstage Friday.

The Biden administration has made an unprecedented effort to bring content creators into the White House orbit, hosting them at receptions and a dedicated holiday party for influencers last year. The administration partnered with influencers to spread the word about initiatives such as the coronavirus vaccine rollout and Biden’s “Build Back Better” spending package, and briefed them on key issues such as the war on Ukraine.

Yet while many creators have eagerly attended White House events and parties, Biden’s reelection campaign is struggling to garner the support of some influential younger, Gen Z, creators.

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The President’s policies on the war in Gaza, climate change, and support of a potential ban on TikTok have prompted some Gen Z influencers who backed him in 2020 to say they don’t support his reelection campaign. Since joining TikTok in February, Biden has managed to amass only 390,000 followers on the app, a fraction of Donald Trump’s TikTok following of more than 7 million.

At VidCon in Anaheim this week, dissatisfaction with Biden was evident in how some creators reacted to his debate with Trump and the announcement of the August summit supposed to draw them closer to the White House.

On Thursday night, more than a dozen content creators packed together on couches in a Mickey Mouse-themed house to watch the debate, which the group collectively judged a failure for Biden. Nearly all expressed hope that he would drop out of the race. One large YouTuber with more than 1 million subscribers, who requested anonymity to describe confidential discussions, said that he had been approached to boost Biden’s reelection on his channels in recent months but declined.

On Friday, some content creators at VidCon were similarly unpersuaded by the announcement of the White House’s Creator Economy Conference.

A content creator who goes by the name Conscious Lee and has 2.6 million followers on TikTok said he wasn’t sure whether he would attend if asked. “I don’t think that they value the creator economy because of how they criminalized content creation by banning TikTok,” Lee said, adding that he disliked Democratic Party policies on Gaza.

Ariana Jasmine Afshar, a Gen Z creator based on Oakland, Calif., with more than 250,000 followers on TikTok who posts about news and politics, said that she would decline if invited. “As a Muslim and Middle Eastern creator I would much rather he address issues like Palestine rather than host dumb creator events,” she said.

Tom, the White House official who announced the summit at VidCon, said the Biden administration intends to use the event to listen to content creators’ concerns. “There is a need for the creator community to have its voice heard,” he said, “and an opportunity for my colleagues and the White House to hear some of these things directly from you all for the first time.”

Saadia Mirza, a 39-year-old content creator from Houston, welcomed the sentiment but said she was unclear the talks would lead anywhere.

“I think it’s great that the Biden admin is having conversations but they’re not having the right conversations,” she said. “Social media is being silenced when it comes to political content right now, including the impending TikTok ban that Biden signed. It makes my actual voice and my platform feel undervalued.”

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