Bloomberg faces criticism for tweet showing altered debate moment

Mike Bloomberg is facing criticism after his presidential campaign on Thursday tweeted out a video from the previous night’s debate that was selectively edited to make it appear that his fellow candidates fell into a lengthy silence when he asked if any of them have started their own business.

Bloomberg’s Twitter account posted the video, which shows the former New York mayor and businessman posing the question on stage in Las Vegas.

“I’m the only one here that’s ever started business. Is that fair?” asked the Bloomberg News founder.

Bloomberg’s video then clipped various moments from the debate and edited them together to make it appear as if a lengthy pause occurred immediately after he asked his question.

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Crickets can be heard as the video scans each of his fellow candidates.

It briefly shows Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low MORE (D-Mass.) starting to speak and raising her hand before sighing. Another clip shows Warren shuffling papers at her podium.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget Sanders calls for social distancing, masks and disinfection on planes as flights operate at full capacity Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE (I-Vt.) is seen taking a deep breath while former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage The Memo: Trump grows weak as clock ticks down Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE raises his eyebrows.

“OK,” Bloomberg said after the lengthy pause.

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Multiple Twitter users pointed out that the clip was edited to appear roughly 20 seconds longer than during the actual debate.

Stef Feldman, policy director for the Biden campaign, wrote that the edited video was “truly horrifying.”

Andom Ghebreghiorgis, a congressional candidate running in New York’s 16th District, called it “propaganda.”

Some wrote that the clip could be misleading those who didn't watch the debate live.

Others also noted that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE has also tweeted out viral videos containing notable alterations.

“It’s tongue in cheek,” Bloomberg press secretary Galia Slayen said in a statement. “There were obviously no crickets on the debate stage.”

Last May, Trump tweeted a video edited to make it seem like Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMilitary bases should not be renamed, we must move forward in the spirit of reconciliation Pelosi: Trump 'himself is a hoax' Women must continue to persist to rise as political leaders of America MORE (D-Calif.) was stumbling over her words. 

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The controversial clip, which did not violate the platform's guidelines, kicked off a larger conversation about how social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are planning to handle manipulated footage leading up to the 2020 presidential elections.  

Twitter said last year that it is crafting a new policy to limit the reach of “deep fakes,” or videos altered using artificial intelligence in misleading ways, and other manipulated media.

Some factors the platform will consider under the new rule include whether the content has been substantially edited in any manner that alters compositions, sequence, timing or framing, as well as whether it adds or removes any visual or auditory information like overdubbed audio or new video frames. 

According to Twitter, Bloomberg’s video would likely be labeled under these guidelines  “to give additional context around what people are seeing.” 

“We will start labeling Tweets with this type of media on March 5, 2020,” Twitter said.

Twitter said earlier this month that altered videos will be labeled as “manipulated media” and will include a link to more “reputable sources.” 

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