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Democratic National Convention to grant media credentials to social media influencers

By Ehren Wynder
President Joe Biden has been courting social media influencers to help him encourage young voters to turn out and vote for him in November. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
President Joe Biden has been courting social media influencers to help him encourage young voters to turn out and vote for him in November. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

June 21 (UPI) -- In a bid to reach younger voters, Democratic National Convention organizers have agreed to grant social media influencers the same credentials as traditional news media.

Credentialed influencers will get access to secluded areas during the convention, which takes place Aug. 19-22 at the United Center in Chicago. The DNC said it will help online creators with any logistics needed for their coverage.

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"As Americans continue to consume information and content in new and changing ways, the convention team is committed to offering a dynamic, inclusive experience that will reach Americans within and beyond the United Center," the Democratic National Convention Committee said on its creators registration page.

Approved personalities will get assistance connecting with surrogates and VIPs, as well as access to an exclusive studio space.

The DNC committee said it will not censor influencers' content or revoke access if their content is critical of President Joe Biden or the Democratic Party.

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"Just like how we respect the freedom of the press to cover our convention, we respect the freedom of creators to produce their own content," a DNCC spokesperson told the Washington Post, adding that the intent is "that more people can look behind the scenes at this piece of the Democratic process and see the story of our party and our president."

The DNCC in the spring hosted influencers at a media walkthrough, where it gave them the same briefings given to traditional media representatives.

The committee is also launching a Chicago-specific influencer program to showcase local influencers.

Biden's campaign has amped up social media outreach as he attempts to court the youth vote that helped him win the White House in 2020.

The White House recently hosted hundreds of influencers, hoping to recruit them as digital canvassers. Among those in attendance were actor Kalen Allen, who has 2 million Instagram followers, and artist Devon Rodriguez, who boasts 9 million followers.

Politico reported the influential Democratic political action committee Priorities USA paid about 150 influencers a total of $1 million to make pro-Biden posts on their platforms.

Declining youth favor toward Biden has been a point of concern among Democrats who fear that his waning support will jeopardize an already tight race against former President Donald Trump.

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Biden's endorsement of a bipartisan bill that would ban the popular social media app TikTok if its Chinese parent company ByteDance doesn't divest of it has done nothing to raise his appeal among the young voters.

Despite concerns about the app's potential ties to the Chinese Communist Party, the Biden campaign earlier this year joined TikTok to further boost youth outreach.

"When the stakes are this high in the election, we are going to use every tool we have to reach young voters where they are," a Biden campaign official told The Hill.

Trump's campaign also joined TikTok in June. Trump, himself, previously has opposed banning the app.

TikTok has more than 100 million daily users in the United States.

The use of influencers on the campaign trail could present legal challenges. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission requires influencers to disclose any sponsorships and financial gains from sales, but as far as political endorsements are concerned, it's still the wild west.

The U.S. Federal Election Commission has not yet offered clarity on regulations that apply to influencers in campaigns.

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, paused political ads on its platforms following the 2020 election, but the rule left out influencers.

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