Minneapolis regarded to social media to maintain the peace

The plan seemed simple: the city of Minneapolis would enlist the help of several key community influencers to deal with misinformation on social media and alleviate potential tension as the murder trial that sparked racist reckoning around the world gets underway. And the city would pay them $ 2,000 each for that.

When jury selection was due to begin on Monday in the Derek Chauvin trial, the former Minneapolis police officer, nervous about the death of George Floyd over the spread of misinformation that could lead to rioting and violence, was hoping for murder Committing the power and reach of social media as your best defense.

The community’s reaction was quick – and the withdrawal was just as quick as the criticism.

The Minneapolis strategy was “a terrible implementation” of a good idea, said Karen North, a professor in the University of Southern California’s digital social media program.

“I agree with the premise that your idea is absolutely right because false information travels very quickly, especially in the digital world, and inflammatory information travels even faster than the calming, boring truth,” said North. “But Minneapolis made it look like propaganda.”

Andrea Jenkins, a Minneapolis councilor in whose ward Floyd was killed, believes in the reach and role of social media, while using the term “social media influencer” was “a poor choice of words”.

“It was never about spreading propaganda,” said Jenkins. “It’s a reality that social media is a dominant part of our society, so I don’t really see why the city shouldn’t communicate that way.”

“Disregard for Human Life” or “Tragedy”? Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd.

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This debate over the use of technology comes from Minneapolis’ feverish precaution against possible rioting related to the trial. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty of second degree murder. The opening arguments for the closely watched process are slated to begin on March 29th.

Floyd, who was black, was killed on May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, featured on widespread smartphone video in which he put his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes when Floyd said he was can’t breathe. Chauvin and three other officers featured in the still inevitable video on social media have been sacked.

The incident sparked global unrest against racial inequalities and police brutality.

The protests, talks and calls to make authorities more accountable over various social media platforms over Floyd’s death have once again made the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter a global call for justice. As a result, the organization was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021.

Minneapolis’ social media plan

Last week, the Minneapolis City Council approved nearly $ 1.2 million in funding with several community organizations during the trial as part of its Joint Information System program, launched after the outrage and destruction over Floyd’s death. The “social media influencers” were part of a larger community strategy.

The city planned to hire six “influencers” from the Black, Somali / East African, Native American, Hmong and Hispanic communities who would have a “large social media presence” to post “city-generated and approved messages” on Facebook , Twitter, to share. Instagram and other social media reports of road and building closures and disapproval of misinformation about the process.

And each influencer would have received $ 2,000 under the plan, Minneapolis officials said.

“Our recommendations were to find additional ways to get this type of information out to all residents,” said the email Minneapolis city officials sent to their elected leaders last Sunday. “We have also heard from our communities that if we ask them to help share information, we should honor their work and reward them.”

During a briefing broadcast online on March 1, David Rubedor, Minneapolis’ neighborhood and community relations director, echoed and understood a similar sentiment aimed at “sharing timely and accurate information” and building two-way communication channels what happens in real time with the community.

According to the city, these people include local community leaders, organizations and groups that are “on site”.

But North, the USC professor, said the Minneapolis social media influencers in particular, whom she believes are more like community leaders and liaison officers, shouldn’t have charged for their services. She said they aren’t social media influencers like Jake and Logan Paul and many others who live on shilling brands.

North said what these “influencers” might all have in common is calling them “The 3 Rs: Reach, Response and Relevance”. She describes reach as a person with the ability to “reach a target audience and a target demographic”. Resonance as “a way to convince with your thoughts and opinions that can resonate, otherwise why bother.”

And relevance as “someone who is very familiar with the current topic”.

North also said Minneapolis officials wanted to convey information to as many people as possible from different backgrounds who may not get their information from traditional news sources.

“But when you pay someone to do it, you automatically suspect that the information is realizable and authentic,” she said.

The Impact of Social Media

For more than a decade, technology and social media in particular have played an important role in the protests of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, the aforementioned Black Lives Matter for the #MeToo movement. Add in the recent uprisings in China and Lebanon, as well as other social movements around the world, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in July 2020, 23% of adult social media users in the US said their views on a political or social topic were based on information they posted on the social over the past year Media have seen to have changed.

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And seeing something on social media could have both positive and negative effects, North said. For example, she said when social media was used to organize mass protests and demonstrations after Floyd’s death, the medium was likely also used to plot the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol two months ago.

“What most of us don’t see is this final phase of organization, which takes place on social media and is often hidden on anonymous and encrypted platforms,” ​​said North. “This is as strong enough as an emerging trend that we are not straying from.”

And Minneapolis wanted to use that power. However, because the city was so keen on having some level of control over public conversation, it lost that control by hiring “influencers,” said Saif Shahin, an assistant professor at American University. Shahin said he was taking city officials’ reasoning at face value, the perception still makes them look bad.

“It’s a very delicate situation and the fact that they tried to hire influencers – that word itself is charged – implies that they were trying to influence public sentiment,” said Shahin, referring to the relationship between social Media and politics focused. “The fact that they chose to do it failed and that’s exactly the opposite of what they wanted.”

During a briefing broadcast online on March 1, David Rubedor, Minneapolis’ neighborhood and community relations director, echoed and understood a similar sentiment aimed at “sharing timely and accurate information” and building two-way communication channels what happens in reality, time with the community.

A worker installs security fences at the Hennepin County's seat of government in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 3, 2021.  Security is stepping up and more Police and National Guard soldiers are expected to be deployed to downtown Minneapolis before jury selection begins in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on George Floyd's March 8 death.

For Jenkins, she said, it’s just about finding out the truth. Their concerns about the spread of false information also stem from an incident last August that sparked rioting in downtown Minneapolis, sparked by rumors on social media that police had killed a man suspected of murdering a murder suspect . He actually shot himself fatally, apparently to avoid being arrested by the police.

Theincidentlead to widespread looting in the region.

“There is great distrust of the city, the police, I don’t deny that and people are right to question every movement,” said Jenkins. “However, if we want to protect our city, everyone must be involved in this process.”

How Minneapolis Will Use Social Media

Jenkins and city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie said Wednesday the city would continue to use social media to share vital information with local residents as well during the trials of Chauvin and Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, the three other officials also indicted Neighborhood and community partners to share in Floyd’s death. The trio will be brought to trial together in August.

This combination of file photos, provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota on June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin in the top row from left and J. Alexander Kueng, in the bottom row from left Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.  A judge on Thursday November 5th denied defense motions to postpone the trial of the four Minneapolis police officers charged with George Floyd's death, and also ruled that all four would be brought to trial in a single trial .

City officials also say they will continue to hold weekly media briefings that will be streamed live online and on the city’s official Facebook page as they prepare for the chauvin ‘trial.

Additionally, McKenzie said the city is launching a public safety and community resources website that will have translated content and update it as it receives community feedback and questions.

“People are really worried and concerned,” said Jenkins. “I know a lot of protests are planned, and that’s fine. I just pray for calm and cool heads to prevail.”

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