Edited Video of Pelosi Ripping Trump's Speech Renews Debate Over Manipulated Content

Date : 02/07/2020 @ 11:07PM
Source : Dow Jones News
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Edited Video of Pelosi Ripping Trump's Speech Renews Debate Over Manipulated Content

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By Jeff Horwitz and Natalie Andrews 

President Trump posted a heavily edited video attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week, sparking a feud highlighting the gray areas that persist about what manipulated content is permissible on social media.

In the video, Mrs. Pelosi (D., Calif.) appeared to be ripping up a copy of Mr. Trump's State of the Union address during the points of his remarks when U.S. citizens and military members were being honored with applause. Mrs. Pelosi only tope up the script once, at the end of the speech.

A White House spokesman didn't immediately return a request for comment about the video.

In less than 24 hours, the video was viewed millions of times across Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. The video was especially popular on Instagram, owned by Facebook, where it garnered more than four million views.

Disagreements over the video triggered a spat on Twitter on Friday between Drew Hammill, Mrs. Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, and Andy Stone, a longtime Facebook spokesman. Mr. Hammill urged Facebook and Twitter to take down the video because it was "deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people."

To that, Mr. Stone responded, "Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn't make those remarks and the Speaker didn't rip the speech?"

Eight minutes later, Mr. Hammill shot back: "what planet are you living on? this is deceptively altered. take it down."

Under Facebook's rules on "manipulated media," announced last month, only videos altered with artificial intelligence or deep-learning techniques are eligible for immediate takedown by the platform. Because the State of the Union video was altered using conventional video editing, it could be reviewed by Facebook's outside fact-checking partners, at which point it could be labeled as misleading and its future spread on the platform slowed.

Fact-checkers hadn't reviewed the video as of Friday afternoon.

The dispute mirrors a similar fight that played out on Facebook last year, when a video of Mrs. Pelosi was misleadingly edited to create the impression that she was slurring her words as if intoxicated. The video was shared by conservative Facebook pages and viewed millions of times. At the time, Mrs. Pelosi likened the social-media company's handling of the altered video to its failure to prevent Russia's interference in the 2016 elections.

It was eventually fact-checked and marked as misleading after a lengthy public dispute but allowed to remain on the platform.

Facebook has previously said the company takes no position on whether particular pieces of content should be found false or misleading by its fact-checking partners.

Twitter, meanwhile, declined to say whether the State of the Union video might be covered under its policy on manipulated media announced in November. Under that policy, which hasn't taken effect yet, misleadingly edited videos would be labeled as such on the platform, though not taken down.

"We won't begin labeling or enforcement action until March 5, 2020, so I can't get into hypotheticals," a Twitter spokeswoman said.

Several Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Ro Khanna of California, called on social networks to take the video down because it spreads false information.

"It's the juxtaposition that makes it false," Mr. Khanna said in an interview. "If they are willing to take down posts that violate copyright, don't you think they could take down posts that have false content?"

Mrs. Pelosi said she "tore up a manifesto of mistruths" on Tuesday night and told reporters in her press conference on Thursday that she did this while the cameras were on to "get the attention of the American people to say, 'This is not true, and this is how it affects you.'"

Deepa Seetharaman contributed to this article.

Write to Jeff Horwitz at Jeff.Horwitz@wsj.com and Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 07, 2020 17:52 ET (22:52 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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