Is Twitter protecting Joe Biden? I think it might be.
On Sunday, Twitter labeled a video of Joe Biden retweeted by President Trump as “manipulated media” because it allegedly violates their new policy designed to warn users of doctored videos and “deepfakes” being shared on their platform.
The video in question, originally shared by White House social media director Dan Scavino on Saturday, shows Biden stumbling during a campaign speech before saying, “Excuse me. We can only reelect Donald Trump.”
The video isn’t doctored or manipulated. Biden did actually say those words. However, it was clipped to not include the latter part of the sentence. “Excuse me. 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,” is what Biden said in full context.
By Sunday evening, the video was flagged:
Just in: Twitter applied its new manipulated media label for the first time to a deceptively edited video of Joe Biden. It was shared by White House social media director Dan Scavino, and retweeted by the president. pic.twitter.com/PggcCwMNkx
— Cat Zakrzewski (@Cat_Zakrzewski) March 8, 2020
There’s no doubt that the clip of Biden is selectively edited to change the context of what he was saying, but it was still presented in a tongue-in-cheek way and no one watching the video sees it and thinks that Biden really believes or meant to say that “We can only re-elect Donald Trump.”
The real issue here is whether this standard is being applied equally.
On Sunday, the Biden campaign tweeted the following video, which actually does use manipulated audio and video of Trump to make it appear as though he said multiple things that he didn’t actually say.
We can't sit by and lose this country to Donald Trump. Today, we take it back — together.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 3, 2020
This clip, which is full of manipulated video and audio that egregiously violates Twitter’s policies, has yet to be flagged by Twitter as “manipulated media.” Why not? Is Twitter protecting Biden?
It’s worth noting here that the Biden campaign has a history of manipulating audio and video. Last year, they doctored video and audio of Trump in a campaign ad.
The media didn’t care at the time, which is hardly surprising since the media has recently manipulated President Trump’s statements about the coronavirus to imply that he said the coronavirus was a hoax, when he never actually said that. To this day, there are people who believe it, and, in fact, the Biden campaign video above perpetuates that falsehood.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr responded to the flagging of the Trump-shared video by saying “We’re seeing an intentional and coordinated effort by established gatekeepers to equate political speech they don’t like with the entirely separate categories of doctored deep fakes, illegal content, and deceptive cheap fakes.”
This is a vital point. If one wants to argue that the video shared by Trump is misleading and should be flagged, that’s fine, as long as deceptive videos by Biden and everyone else are as well. By only selectively flagging videos, Twitter is doing exactly what Carr is suggesting, and that is very concerning.
Twitter may eventually flag the Biden video (if there’s enough outrage) but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say they won’t. If I’m wrong, and they do flag the Biden campaign video that manipulates Trump’s words, how much do you want to bet the media won’t cover that?
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis