Sophie Fullerton: Bashar al-Assad’s regime has regained control of much of Syria, but over half its population remains displaced. She says the regime has been earnestly recruiting YouTubers and influencers to help burnish its image. Most travel influencers consider themselves apolitical, and their audiences are mainly interested in sights, sounds and flavors, she says. But even without explicitly parroting regime pronouncements or producing PR for it, these influencers are advancing the regime's agenda by imparting the false impression that the country's troubles are behind it, Fullerton says. Most Syrians still suffer in internal exile or as refugees abroad, and most Syrians are still suffering from internal exile and as refugees. The regime exploits the influencers’ naivete
The value of such tourism to the regime is obvious, but it is more troubling that many posts have been sponsored by Western companies. Duolingo, Surfshark and Skillshare have all sponsored videos produced during these atrocity safaris. The vloggers have been able to monetize such content on YouTube. In one video, Benjamin Rich even used abandoned homes as a backdrop to sell SurfShark subscriptions.