Facebook has refused to delete an altered video of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that has been slowed down to give the impression she is slurring her words, becoming the latest incident in the debate over how social media companies police content on their platforms.
The video — first reported by the Washington Post — shows Pelosi speaking at a Center for American Progress event, at which she claimed President Trump’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations was equal to engaging “in a cover-up.”
The altered video appeared to be slowed down by about 25 per cent to make her sound intoxicated.
“By my calculation, the altered video has been slowed by almost 75% introducing a significant distortion in her speech,” Hany Farid, a professor at UC Berkeley told CNN.
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The video, posted by the conservative Facebook page Politics WatchDog, has been viewed more than 2.5 million times and received more than 26,000 comments, which included comments like “Omg is she drunk or having a stroke???” and “She’s drunk!!!!!!” Politics WatchDog said on its Facebook page that they “never claimed that Speaker Pelosi was drunk.”
We can’t control what the people in the comments think. It’s a free country,” the group said.
In a since-deleted tweet, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, sent out a link to the altered video writing: “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre.”
Pelosi’s daughter, Christine, called out the video and conservatives alike, stating, “Madam Speaker doesn’t even drink alcohol!”
“Republicans and their conservative allies have been pumping this despicable fake meme for years! Now they are caught,” she tweeted.
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Facebook said in statement to Global News that it was not removing the video because it did not violate the platforms community standards.
“We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true,” the statement said, but noted the video has been reviewed by third-party fact-checkers, which deemed it false.
“We are now heavily reducing its distribution in News Feed and showing additional context from this fact-checker in the form of a ‘Related Articles’ unit in News Feed where it still appears,” the company said.
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Meanwhile, YouTube removed the video, saying it clearly violated their content policies.
“We remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us,” the company said. “These videos violated our policies and have been removed. They also did not surface prominently. In fact, search results and watch next panels about Nancy Pelosi include videos from authoritative sources, usually at the top.”
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Concerns about so-called “deep fake” videos, in which artificial intelligence is used to create realistic video simulations of individuals, have been growing in recent years.
“Adversaries and strategic competitors probably will attempt to use deep fakes or similar machine-learning technologies to create convincing — but false — image, audio, and video files to augment influence campaigns directed against the United States and our allies and partners,” U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned in January.
The Pelosi video also comes as social media giants wrestle with a number of issues ranging from fake news to Facebook’s role in elections interference, hate speech and incitement to violence in the U.S., and abroad.
Facebook recently announced it removed over 3 billion fake accounts from October 2018 to March 2019, but didn’t say how many accounts it may have missed.
The video came amid an increasingly bitter feud between Trump and ranking Democrats.
Late Thursday, President Trump tweeted a separate video of Pelosi that was selectively edited to focus on moments where paused or stumbled. The clip used just 30 seconds of Pelosi’s full 21-minute briefing on Thursday, where she spoke with reporters and discussed Trump’s “temper tantrum” and said she was concerned for his “well-being.”
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