Twitter’s new rules concerning manipulated content went into effect this week, and—not surprisingly—President Donald Trump has already proven why the platform needed them in the first place.
On Sunday, Twitter applied its recently implemented “manipulated media” tag to a deceptively doctored video the president retweeted, as first repoted by the Washington Post. The video, originally posted by White House social media director Dan Scavino, appears to show former vice president Joe Biden endorsing Trump’s reelection bid thanks to the magic of editing.
“Excuse me. We can only reelect Donald Trump . . .” Biden says in the clip. However, the second part of that quote, taken from a recent speech the Democratic frontrunner gave in Kansas City, Missouri, is cut off; he goes on to say, “We can only reelect Donald Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It’s gotta be a positive campaign.” As of Sunday evening, the edited clip has garnered 5.4 million views and more than 70,000 retweets.
Twitter announced its new regulations banning faked pictures and video and more strictly regulating manipulated last month, but Thursday was the first day they took effect. Now, the platform “may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand the media’s authenticity and to provide additional context.” Any manipulated content “likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm” runs afoul of this policy. But what that label would say or how it would be applied didn’t become clear until Twitter users spotted it on Trump’s tweet this weekend in what’s believed to be the platform’s first use.
And, as is typical when new updates roll out online, the system’s not without its hiccups. For now, the tag only appears beneath the video if you come across it on your feed, not when you navigate to the post directly. A Twitter spokesperson told the Post that they’re currently working on a fix.
Previously, Twitter’s taken a hand’s off approach when it comes to moderating the president’s tweets, arguing that the content—no matter how defamatory, inaccurate, or downright racist—should be preserved for “clear public interest value.” Just last month, the platform refused to take down a deceptively edited video that Trump posted of his State of the Union address, one that made it seem as if House Speaker Nanci Pelosi’s viral speech-ripping moment occurred immediately after he lauded military veterans.