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Twitter labels video retweeted by Trump as 'manipulated media'

Steve Dent
Associate Editor
GLENN CHAPMAN via Getty Images

A video created by the White House social media director and retweeted by Donald Trump is the first to be tagged by Twitter as "manipulated media." The video shows Democratic candidate Joe Biden appearing to endorse Trump after the end of his sentence was pruned off. Twitter came up with the guideline last year ahead of the 2020 election to highlight "video that has been significantly altered or fabricated in a way that intends to mislead people or changes its original meaning."

The original video showed Biden saying: "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." However, Scavino cut off the end of the video so it just said, "Excuse me. We can only re-elect Donald Trump."

The video marks the first time Twitter has used the "manipulated media" tag, according to the Washington Post. The social media company first showed the policy in November 2019, created after consulting with users and experts from institutions like Witness, the Reuters Institute and New York Universities. It's designed to help Twitter crack down on misleading information leading up to the 2020 election. During the 2016 campaign, it was widely blamed for allowing fake news to circulate on the platform.

The label first started to appear to users on Sunday night, but it has only showed up on timelines and not searches. (The label did not show up for me at 2:30AM ET when I searched for Scavino's tweet.) However, Twitter spokesperson Katie Rosborough told the WaPo that it's working on a fix for that.

Scavino claimed on Twitter that the video was "not manipulated," though it was certainly "deceptively edited" which also violates Twitter's rule. Twitter has been reluctant in the past to take action against Trump's tweets, even though they sometimes violate its standards, for reasons of "newsworthiness" and "public interest."

Facebook, by contrast, did not flag the tweet as deceptive, drawing a rebuke from the Biden campaign. "Facebook's malfeasance when it comes to trafficking in blatantly false information is a national crisis in this respect," said Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz in a statement to the NY Times. "It is also an unconscionable act of putting profit above not just our country, but every country."