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Home / Tips and Tricks / Republicans are flooding the internet with deceptive videos and big tech is not keeping up

Republicans are flooding the internet with deceptive videos and big tech is not keeping up



Between Sunday and Monday, high profile Republicans, including President Donald Trump, shared at least four deceptive videos online.

One that got widespread was a fake video about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden posted on the Twitter account of Steve Scalise, the whip of the minority of the House. Following an outcry, including a person in the video who put words in their mouths to distort what Biden said, Twitter took the measures that were taken in such cases, calling the video “media manipulation”.

However, the rigged media label is just that – a label that appears below the video when users look at the specific tweet it was applied to. It’s small and may be overlooked by users, and although some users may take a break before sharing a particular video, it won̵

7;t stop them if they decide to continue anyway.

Scalise or its employees posted the same video on Facebook, but the company took no action and refused to comment. (Scalise eventually picked up the video itself due to the outcry from Twitter and Facebook.)

Another misinformation video was shared on Twitter by White House social media director Dan Scavino on Sunday evening. The video has been edited so that it incorrectly looks like Biden fell asleep during a television interview. At the time Twitter labeled it tampered with, roughly 18 hours after Scavino tweeted it – and at least 24 hours after the video was shared thanks to tweets from other users on the platform – it had roughly 1.3 million views. On Monday evening, Twitter completely removed the video, not because it was misinformation, but because of a copyright claim. By then it had 2.4 million views.

While the effectiveness of the Manipulated Media label and other such labels is unclear at best, Twitter seems increasingly willing to use them to challenge misinformation from politicians. Although Facebook has hired a global network of fact-checkers, they are largely banned from scrutinizing politicians, a policy CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vigorously defended.

However, Facebook has shown itself willing to make some exceptions to this policy, as well as to Zuckerberg’s current line that a company like his shouldn’t be an arbiter of the truth.

Facebook says it will not tolerate any misinformation that it finds could cause harm, such as false claims about Covid-19. A few weeks ago, the company removed a video published by Trump in which he falsely claimed during an interview that children were “almost immune” to the virus. Twitter also removed the video.

None of the companies appear ready to apply their medical misinformation policies to misinformation from US politicians that could mislead voters or undermine the November election (possibly in exceptional circumstances, if someone announces the wrong election date). And if the past few days are any sign of it, it could mean they continue to act as conduits and amplifiers for a deluge of misinformation.

Below is a fact check of the last four videos and a look at the actions the two companies have taken regarding them.

A deceptively truncated Biden quote

The tweet: On Monday, the Trump campaign’s War Room account tweeted a three-second clip of Democratic candidate Joe Biden saying, “You’re not safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

Why it was dishonest: The campaign took Biden’s comments from a Monday speech completely out of context. Contrary to the video’s suggestion, Biden did not mistake himself for Trump.

Biden’s actual comments were coherent. He said while “Trump and Pence” claim “You will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America” ​​the fact is that they do so by citing violence occurring “in Donald Trump’s America”.

“These are not pictures of Joe Biden America in the future. These are pictures of Donald Trump’s America today,” Biden continued.

The result: Twitter tagged the tweet with a “manipulated media” tag.

A wrongly labeled crime video

The tweet: On Sunday, Trump retweeted a video entitled “Black Lives Matter / Antifa”. The video, posted by a white nationalist, showed a 2019 crime in which a black man pushed a white woman onto a subway platform in New York City.
Why it was dishonest: This attack had nothing to do with the Black Lives Matter movement or Antifa, a loose collection of anti-fascist activists. The man arrested in the incident has a long history of crime in the New York transit system.

The result: None. The tweet remained unlabeled active from Monday afternoon.

A wrong Biden interview

The tweet: White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino shared a video on Twitter showing Biden, a news anchor in Bakersfield, Calif., Snoring on camera to get him to wake up for an interview.

Why it was dishonest: That incident never happened.

The anchor’s footage – Leyla Santiago, now on CNN – comes from an attempted 2011 interview with entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte, who closed his eyes and did not respond to her admonitions to “wake up”.
The video shared by Scavino also added loud snoring noises that are inaudible in real Belafonte footage. (Belafonte later said he did not sleep, only meditated, and a technical error prevented him from hearing Santiago.)
Biden’s footage is from a video conversation with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2020. Biden looked down, his eyes appeared to be at least partially closed for part of the conversation, but he was certainly not snoring.

The result: Twitter tagged the tweet with a “manipulated media” tag. The company eventually removed it due to a copyright claim. The video had been viewed 2.4 million times by Monday night when it was removed.

A wrong addition to a Biden exchange

The tweet and Facebook post: Republican MP Steve Scalise, the House minority whip, attacked Democrats for their alleged radicalism and tweeted a video on Sunday alleging a video exchange between Biden and progressive activist Ady Barkan. Barkan has ALS and speaks with a computer-controlled artificial voice.

In the Scalise version of the exchange, Barkan asked Biden, “Do we agree that we can divert some of the funds to the police?” and Biden replied, “Yes, absolutely.”

Why it was dishonest: Barkan said not “for the police” in the actual question that led to the answer “yes, absolutely”. The Scalise video took these words from an earlier Barkan question and appended them to it.

The result: Scalise deleted the video after Twitter identified it as “compromised media,” saying it did so based on a request from Barkan.

Facebook did nothing about the video and refused to comment. Scalise deleted the video from Facebook.




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