President Donald Trump tweeted and edited video showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. repeatedly tearing up his State of the Union speech as he honored audience members and showed a military family reuniting — and the footage caused quite a stir on social media.
Pelosi did tear apart the speech — but when it was finished, not during the address.
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Pelosi’s office asked Twitter and Facebook to ban the controversial video. Both services refused, saying it does not violate its policies intended to prohibit intentionally deceptive videos.
It would be soooooo terrible if this video hits 10,000,000 views, as Nancy doesn’t want Americans to see how disgraceful she really is! pic.twitter.com/OWfTEiadpr
— Dan Scavino Jr.???????? (@Scavino45) February 10, 2020
Of course, political campaign ads and candidate messages showing opponents in a negative light have long been a staple of American politics. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams attacked each other in newspaper ads. John F. Kennedy’s campaign debuted an ad showing different videos edited together of Richard Nixon sweating and looking weak.
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So, to some extent, the video of Pelosi, which appears to be created by a group affiliated with conservative organization Turning Point USA, is not novel. What’s different now, said Clifford Lampe, a professor of information at the University of Michigan, is how widely such content can spread in a matter of minutes.
“The difference now is that the campaigns themselves, the president of U.S. himself, is able to disseminate these pieces of media to the public,” he said. “They no longer have to collaborate with media outlets.”
The Pelosi team has repeatedly tried to have negative videos of the speaker banned.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been criticized in the past over efforts to censor disinformation on their services.
But the video of Pelosi does not violate existing policies, both Twitter and Facebook said. Facebook has rules that prohibit so-called “deepfake” videos, which the company says are both misleading and use artificial intelligence technology to make it seem like someone authentically “said words that they did not actually say.”
Critics say the Pelosi video is an example of a “cheapfake” video, one that has been edited but not with sophisticated AI like in a deepfake.
That editing is “deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people,” Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted on Friday. He condemned Facebook and Twitter and said the video should be censored.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone replied to Hammill on Twitter saying, “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?” In an interview Sunday, Stone confirmed that the video didn’t violate the company’s policy.
The Associated Press contributed to this article