In their latest refusal to stop videos edited to perpetrate lies and propaganda, both Facebook and Twitter have refused to take down a deepfake tweeted by Trump.
After his State of the Union speech last week, he tweeted out a deepfake video, labelled “Powerful American stories ripped to shreds by Nancy Pelosi,” that had been altered to make it appear that Speaker of the House Pelosi ripped up her copy of his speech during a salute to a Tuskegee airman.
In fact, of course, Pelosi ripped up the copy of the speech at the end of the event, in protest of the numerous lies and distortions in Trump’s remarks. In reality, she stood and applauded the airman when he was honored during the event.
The Speaker’s office demanded that Facebook and Twitter remove the video.
But Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said the fake doesn’t violate its policies. While it distorted reality by completely changing the context of Pelosi’s actions, the spokesperson claimed to CNBC that it does not "make it appear that a person said something they didn’t say or did something they didn’t do,” in CNBC's words.
On Friday, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, posted a link to a criticism of the video, adding: “The latest fake video of Speaker Pelosi is deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people, and every day that these platforms refuse to take it down is another reminder that they care more about their shareholders’ interests than the public’s interests.”
“I think they have a history here of promoting and making money off of content that is intentionally false,” Hammill posted after a Twitter skirmish with Stone.
Twitter, meanwhile, sidestepped the issue by saying that its newly announced policy regarding deceptive video doesn’t go into effect until March 5.
The new policy states that users may not “deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm.” In addition, Twitter “may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand the media’s authenticity and to provide additional context.”
Twitter says it will review videos to judge whether “the content has been substantially edited in a manner that fundamentally alters its composition, sequence, timing or framing” as well as looking at “any visual or auditory information (such as new video frames, overdubbed audio or modified subtitles) that has been added or removed.”
Twitter refused to remove the faked Pelosi video under its current policies. And, asked by CNBC whether the video would violate its new policies, a Twitter spokesperson emailed that she “can’t get into hypotheticals.”
In addition to scrutiny of their business practices by Congress and other bodies, both Facebook and Twitter have been under intense pressure from the Trump administration to allow free reign of fake and deceptive content, as well as practices including micro-targeting of users for political purposes.