Twitter labelled an edited video of US presidential candidate Joe Biden as “manipulated media”, the Washington Post reported. The video was tweeted by Dan Scavino, who heads social media for the White House, and was retweeted by Trump himself. The Post said that this could potentially be among the first doctored videos to be labelled as manipulated media by the platform after its policy on labelling and removing such content went into effect on March 5. When MediaNama searched for the tweet, it did not show the “manipulated media” label to us.
Last June, Twitter had effectively announced that none of Trump’s tweets would be deleted, arguing that even if they did violate community standards, they are newsworthy and therefore have to stay on the platform. The company later walked that back a little, saying that some content, like threats against a specific individual or promoting terrorism, would be removed no matter who posts it.
Just in: Twitter applied its new manipulated media label for the first time to a deceptively edited video of Joe Biden. It was shared by White House social media director Dan Scavino, and retweeted by the president. pic.twitter.com/PggcCwMNkx
— Cat Zakrzewski (@Cat_Zakrzewski) March 8, 2020
How the video was edited: The doctored video is a portion of a speech delivered by the former Vice President in Kansas on March 7, and was reportedly edited to make it appear as if Biden was endorsing Trump for reelection in 2020. In the doctored video, Biden can be heard saying “Excuse me. We can only re-elect Donald Trump”. However, according to the report, the full sentence was “Excuse me. We can only re-elect Donald Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It’s gotta be a positive campaign.”
The labelling saw a technical glitch: The platform reportedly applied the label to the video at 5 pm on March 8, about 18 hours after it was first uploaded. By then, the video reportedly had 5 million views and over 21,000 retweets. The application of the label also faced a technical glitch, the Post said, as the “manipulated media” label only appeared on an individual’s timeline and was not visible when people searched for the tweet.
How Twitter determines manipulated media: While announcing its policy around manipulated media last month, Twitter had said that it “may” label tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media, including videos, audio and images, and will remove such content, if they are “deceptively shared,” and pose “serious harm”. Twitter said that it would determine the context in which media are shared and if that could lead to “confusion or misunderstanding” or have a “deliberate intent” to deceive people. Other factors it will use to assess context are: text of the tweet with(in) the media, metadata, information on the profile of the person sharing the media, and websites linked in the profile of the person, or in the tweet itself.