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Government and influencers: "The red line between propaganda and communication has been crossed"


FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE - By inviting influencers without any political culture, the government seeks to manipulate depoliticized people, analyzes Mathieu Slama.

Consultant and political analyst, Mathieu Slama works for several media, notably Le Figaro and Le Huffington Post.

He has published

The War of the Worlds, Reflections on Putin's Crusade Against the West

, (ed. De Fallois, 2016).

This is the latest controversy that has animated social networks: an influencer, EnjoyPhoenix, invited by government spokesperson Gabriel Attal to a round table with some of his colleagues, spoke during the debate about her concerns about the cheating in colleges and discounted degrees.

Immediate reaction from students on social networks, with the creation of a hashtag #etudiantspasinfluenceurs, many evoking the indecency of comments coming from a person who has not known the vagaries of student life and who is therefore disconnected from the issues that arise. 'she mentioned during the debate.

This controversy, typical of the functioning of social networks, nevertheless says something about the way in which the government sees its relationship with young people - and more fundamentally with the French.

And this report has nothing of a democratic report and everything of an infantilizing and depoliticizing report.

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The first thing to note is that the government has made a major strategic mistake: to invite, in a round table, out-of-school influencers to talk about a subject that does not concern them, student precariousness.

Funny idea that demonstrates the lack of vision, cynicism and opportunism of government communicators, whose only concern is to invest in new social media and everything that goes with it in the hope of reaching a young audience , without even thinking about the right way to do it.

The error is even greater when we stop for a moment on the precarious situation of students who are more and more numerous to sound the alarm on social networks.

The images of students lining up in front of food distribution premises should invite extreme caution when it comes to broaching this subject.

Invite influencers to a public discussion, why not, but those who have things to say on the subject at hand.

Otherwise, the strategy can only backfire on the government, and that is what happened.

And how can we not understand all those who express their anger on social networks, when invited influencers show their financial well-being on social networks all the time, like this twenty-year-old who recently posed on Instagram in front of a luxury car, with this comment:

"I gave myself a nice gift for my twentieth birthday"


The gap is as absurd as it is scandalous.

The government's mistake is not to have seen it.

Invite influencers to a public discussion, why not, but those who have things to say on the subject at hand

Mathieu slama

But the problem is even deeper.

The government seems to be engaged in a very offensive approach vis-à-vis influencers, as evidenced by the recent operation of the Élysée with the youtubers McFly & Carlito.

It is no more and no less to manipulate depoliticized people, whose audiences themselves are depoliticized, and to take advantage of their naivety to convey political messages.

McFly & Carlito are known for their offbeat, humorous, entertaining videos aimed at a young audience, tackling everyday topics while carefully avoiding any social or political topic.

They participated, like other influencers, in the “case of the century” suing the state for inaction on the climate emergency, and organized a fundraising campaign for nurses which was a success.

Their degree of politicization is therefore close to zero, and it is obvious that they did not have the weapons to thwart the Macron government's manipulation of them.

So it is not to them that we should blame this story.

The same reflection applies to EnjoyPhoenix, an influencer whose main activity is to promote beauty products as well as personal development advice, and whose political awareness is close to zero, if not an environmental sensitivity specific to his generation (and devoid of any political dimension).

To read also: YouTube, Twitch: "The gadgetization of political life"

It is therefore a question here much more of propaganda than of communication, and one is astonished that nobody, within the majority, has taken the measure of this red line which has been crossed.

There are political influencers in France, on the right and on the left, with whom the government could have organized exchanges.

A more political approach would have made sense, and a government cannot be faulted for seeking to educate young people who are reluctant to vote.

But appealing to influencers who have no political culture, and who have no way of realizing the political instrumentalization of which they are victims, here is a much more reprehensible strategy.

So here it is much more propaganda than communication.

Mathieu slama

What image does the government of youth have today?

Does he think she is reducible to this slew of

often mediocre and superficial



sold to brands and companies, whose main activity is to transform themselves into a living billboard?

Does he think that young people today are not interested in deeper things, also more critical of social issues?

This is what is most serious in this affair, this impression that the government takes young French people for imbeciles.

Certainly, some influencers like EnjoyPhoenix or Léna Situations, whose abysmal mediocrity says something about our time, enjoy immense popularity with young people, like this whole generation of teenage TikTokers who are making their elders out of date while competing with them in nullity.

This, no one disputes.

But they are not the only subjects of interest to young people, who are also interested in YouTubers who produce interesting educational videos on social, historical or even political issues.

To think, moreover, that the public of influencers blindly follows their idols is a mistake which proves the government's lack of knowledge of the habits of young French people who also have a critical eye on the excesses of the 2.0 entertainment society. influencers or reality TV.

You just have to look at social networks to realize this.

Does he think that young people today are not interested in deeper things, also more critical of social issues?

Mathieu slama

This opportunism and this instrumentalization are in reality the hallmark of this government which has not ceased, in recent years, to consider the French people as a large daycare center to be educated or re-educated, towards which it is necessary to make " pedagogy ”in the same way as one does pedagogy in a schoolyard.

The management of the health crisis is the most striking example: the only objective of the government has been to promote the "acceptability" of the measures taken, including the most serious such as confinement or curfew, without even considering the possibility of democratic debate.

The government invokes common sense and the spirit of responsibility in its health policy, acting as if there were no possible alternatives.

If the French are recalcitrant, then we must redouble our pedagogy to ensure that they accept the inevitable.

This is the fundamental stake behind the controversy that we have just mentioned: the depoliticization, by the government, of absolutely all political subjects, including the most important ones, and the recourse to propaganda and infantilization to the detriment of the democratic debate.

Taking the French for fools, Macronie is taking an immense risk, that of a massive rejection in 2022. Which will benefit the one who, silently, observes the chaos spreading and reap all the benefits.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-03-02

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