In what may be termed as the ultimate regulatory move, Twitter labelled a post retweeted by Donald Trump as “manipulated media”. The original tweet was a video doctored to make it appear as though Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden had accidently endorsed Trump for re-election. The video, which was originally tweeted by White House director of social media Dan Scaring, was retweeted by Trump and went on to become the first twitter post to attain the tag.
The fabricated video used footage from the democratic presidential candidate’s speech in Kansas City. The edited video makes it appear as though Biden endorsed the re-election of the president by saying “Excuse me. We can only re-elect Donald Trump” when what Joe Biden actually said was “Excuse me. We can only re-elect Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It’s gotta be a positive campaign”. By Sunday evening, the tweet had been viewed 5.2 Million times. The manipulated media label became visible to viewers in the same time window.
Reports uncovered that Biden’s campaign manager, Greg Schultz responded to the affair in a strongly worded statement admonishing Facebook for not taking similar action. She called Facebook’s malfeasance with respect to trafficking in blatantly false misinformation a “national crisis”.
Accusing Facebook of caring first and foremost about money, the social media site according to Schultz serves as one the world’s most effective mediums for the spread of vile lies. The site according to her should be called out for the display of unethical behaviour.
The ban on fake pictures, videos and other media that is “deceptively shared” by Twitter came into effect on March 5th. As of last month, the site vowed to remove harmful content but didn’t promise the removal of misleading content. The “manipulated media” policy covers synthetic and manipulated media “likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm”.
This includes sophisticated deepfakes and other deceptively edited content. Twitter determines whether a piece of media violates its policy by examining the tweet’s metadata, the context and Twitter user’s public information. The policy came into effect after Twitter facing years of criticism for not controlling harassment on the platform.