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Twitter labels Trump video tweet as manipulated media, continuing its crackdown on misinformation


“Racist baby probably a Trump voter,” the headline then says in a subsequent screen.

The video then cuts to the original clip of the children hugging, and then cuts to the message “America is not the problem. Fake news is.”

The label is the latest flash point in an increasingly contentious debate over tech companies’ responsibility to police falsehoods and hoaxes spread by politicians on their platforms. It could worsen an already tense relationship between Silicon Valley and Trump, who has escalated his claims in recent weeks that social media titans are biased against conservatives.

Trump has also criticized the companies — particularly Twitter — for censoring him. Meanwhile, social media has become a major way he communicates with constituents, with more than 82 million followers on Twitter alone and missives that come day and night.

The video had received roughly 3.8 million views and more than 75,000 retweets at the time of Twitter’s label.

“This tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context,” Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough said.

The White House did not have immediate respond to a request for comment.

This is only the third time that the company has announced that it would take action against one of the president’s tweets. Twitter has previously appended labels to a pair of Trump’s tweets that made misleading claims about mail-in ballots, as well as another post that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” for violating its terms on violence.

Trump lashed out at Twitter after the company’s initial decision to label his tweets regarding the mail-in ballots. He also signed an executive order that week that sought to punish social media companies by calling on federal regulators to reexamine a key legal shield that gives tech companies broad immunity for the posts and photos people share on their services.

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Twitter’s decision to label the tweets is the culmination of a series of quiet and incremental processes intended to dismantle a long-standing exception that the social media industry has made for the speech of politicians. Social media companies are under increased pressure to moderate content on their websites — especially from the Oval Office — as concerns mount about misinformation amid the coronavirus pandemic and the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

In March, Twitter also applied a similar manipulated media warning to a video tweeted by White House social media director Dan Scavino, which Trump retweeted.

Twitter implemented its manipulated media policy on March 5 to stem the spread of doctored photos and videos that could mislead users. Democrats ratcheted up pressure on companies to address the issue after videos edited to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appear drunk went viral on multiple social networks.

Meanwhile, video social media platform Snapchat has taken a different approach in seeking to limit the reach of Trump’s account. The company said it would no longer feature Trump in its “Discover” tab, though people can still search for the president’s account. Snapchat did not have immediate comment on the video, which was also posted to its platform.

The manipulated video Trump tweeted Thursday remains unlabeled on Facebook, where it received more than 100,000 likes and more than 26,000 shares. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it planned to take similar action against the video.

The company on Thursday removed Trump campaign ads that included a symbol once used by the Nazis to designate political prisoners in concentration camps. The red inverted triangles were the campaign’s latest attack against antifa and “far-left groups.” Facebook has also removed ads from the president in the past that were criticized for making misleading claims about the U.S. Census.

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Twitter previously labeled Trump’s tweet on fraudulent mail-in ballots with a label that says, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.“ It redirects users to news articles about Trump’s unsubstantiated claim.

For the tweet that called for violence during the protests, Twitter added a gray box that now hides the tweet from public view unless a user clicks on it that reads: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.” The move also prevented other users from liking the president’s tweet or sharing it without appending comment.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump tweeted late last month, adding, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The edited video that Twitter labeled on Thursday credited the user @CarpeDonktum, who has long been a favored purveyor of memes by Trump and his allies. Trump last year invited @CarpeDonktum to attend a White House summit on social media, where he railed against the companies for being biased against conservatives and praised his online supporters.

Critics warned that the event could embolden digital provocateurs to be more aggressive in their controversial tactics to support the president in an election year.

“Bahahahahaha,” @CarpeDonktum said in a tweet Thursday night, in response to Twitter’s label.





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