Twitter said Monday it will begin displaying warning labels on shared posts that contain misleading or doctored videos after facing complaints that it failed to do enough to limit the spread of deceptive clips targeting Joe Biden’s campaign.
Key context: The social network in recent days has slapped labels on tweets by prominent Republican officials that contained deceptively edited or altered videos, including posts by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, White House social media director Dan Scavino and the reelection campaign for President Donald Trump.
On Monday, the Trump campaign tweeted a truncated clip of Biden saying, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” The clip was in fact from a speech in which Biden said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were making that argument. The full quote from the speech: “Trump and Pence are running on this, and I find it fascinating: Quote, ‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.’ And what’s their proof? The violence we’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.”
Twitter later added a “manipulated media” label to the tweet.
What’s changing: Until now, the labels did not appear when users shared the posts through what the platform calls “quote tweets ”— retweets with added comment from another user. Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s head of product, said in a tweet that the company started rolling out a fix Monday to address the issue, which he called “a gap in implementation” of its policy against so-called manipulated media.
The company earlier this year announced it would begin labeling and in some cases removing tweets “containing synthetic and manipulated media” — part of an effort to curb viral misinformation on the platform ahead of the 2020 elections.
But that doesn’t mean the label will appear everywhere: A Twitter spokesperson said late Monday that while the fix has now been implemented “for nearly 100 percent” of the places where posts labeled under the policy appear, it has not yet been extended to the company’s popular dashboard app, TweetDeck.
“We’re working at continuing to expand where these labels appear,” Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy said.
Why some say much more is needed: Twitter’s policy on deceptively edited videos has come under fire from critics on the left who say the platform hasn’t enforced it fully and that the labels don’t do enough to limit the spread of misleading posts.
“This fake video has racked up tens of thousands of views despite it’s tiny ‘Manipulated Media’ tag,” the liberal activist group Sleeping Giants tweeted Monday about the Scavino post.
The group added in a separate post, “Why does @twitter label manipulated media instead of simply removing it? It can easily be ripped and tweeted out thousands of times across the platform without the ability to label all of them!”
The White House, the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Scavino on Sunday posted a fake altered video that appeared to show Biden falling asleep during a television interview.
Biden on Sunday took issue with a separate tweet by Scalise that included video of a doctored exchange between Biden and health care activist Ady Barkan, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“This video is doctored — and a flagrant attempt to spread misinformation at the expense of a man who uses assistive technology,” Biden tweeted. “It should be removed. Now.”
Republicans have skewered Twitter for labeling tweets by Trump and his allies, accusing the company of bias against conservatives, a charge it denies.
The Trump campaign took aim at critics of its Monday tweet about “Joe Biden’s America,” writing in a separate post, “To all the triggered journalists who can’t take a joke about their candidate, it’s not our fault Joe Biden was dumb enough to say this on camera.”