Great Britain

Minneapolis cancels plan to hire social media influencers to spin George Floyd murder trial

Officials in Minneapolis have scrapped plans for social media influencers to spread “approved messages” during the trial of George Floyd’s murder, following criticism.

The city council approved plans on Friday for six “influencers” to spread targeted messaging on social media during the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged of murder, before back-tracking.

David Rubedor, the city’s director of neighbourhood and community relations, said of the decision on Monday that “influencer” did not accurately describe the duties of the roles, and apologised, CNN reported.

“We are sorry and acknowledge that we will have to work to repair the harm that has been caused," Mr Rubedor said in a statement.

"This was never about trying to change or persuade the public opinion on any particular message, but it was about getting important information out quickly and in an equitable way,” Mr Rudbedor said.

As reported by CNN, Mr Rubedor’s apology came after the proposals were criticised for targeting the city’s Black community with “approved messages”.

Councillors agreed to allocate $1,181,500 (£848,571) in city funding for contracts with the social media influencers, as well as community leaders, and local media outlets for the duration of the trial, due to begin later this month.

The city’s Native American, Somali, Hmong and Latino communities were also due to be targeted by the communications campaign, with each “influencer” being paid $2,000 (£1,433).

“The 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,” the council said on Friday.

Campaigners attacked city officials for trying to "control the narrative" around the trial, with Minneapolis activist Toussaint Morrison telling WCCO: “The key word here is “city-approved”

“What do you think the message is going to be? It’s going to be pro-city, it’s going to be anti-protest.”

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