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Minneapolis scraps plan to hire social media influencers to cover George Floyd trial

The plan was intended to dispel information about Derek Chauvin’s forthcoming trial.

George Floyd mural Getty Images

Minneapolis officials have chosen to pull back on their idea to get social media influencers involved in the George Floyd trial. As Motherboard reported, David Rubedor — the director of the city’s Neighborhood and Community Relations Department — issued an apology on Monday (March 1) for confusing community members with the initiative.

The Minneapolis City Council initially approved a $ 1.2 million community engagement and communication plan that involves partnering with community leaders, local media and social media influencers during the forthcoming trial that will see Derek Chauvin face a judge and a jury. In one particular initiative, the city intended to dispel misinformation and send out “city-generated and approved messages” about the case via six influencers, who would have received $2,000 for their services.

“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 previously said in a statement, per WCCO-TV. “It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the city and communities.”

After receiving backlash from the community, Rubedor announced the council’s decision to cancel the initiative. “We would like to take a moment to address the recommendation to use social media ‘influencers’ as part of the Joint Information System information sharing strategies,” he said in a statement.

“While we believe in and support the intention of this recommendation, we have seen the impact has caused harm. We are sorry and acknowledge that we will have to work to repair the harm that has been caused. At this point, we will NOT move forward with this strategy.”

“This was never about trying to persuade or change public opinion about any particular message,” Rubedor clarified. “It was about getting important information out quickly and in an equitable way.”

Chauvin — the ex-officer facing second-degree murder and manslaughter charges for kneeling on Floyd’s neck — will start trial on March 8th. The other three ex-officers involved in the incident are scheduled to go on trial in the summer.

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