Silicon Valley lawmaker calls on Facebook to remove doctored Pelosi video

Silicon Valley lawmaker calls on Facebook to remove doctored Pelosi video
© Aaron Schwartz

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaOvernight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All' Justice Democrats official denies that progressives struggle with electability Progressive House Democrat unveils bill to allow state-based 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley, is calling for Facebook to remove the doctored video of House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats sharpen their message on impeachment Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate Siren song of impeachment lures Democrats toward election doom MORE (D-Calif.) that has gone viral on social media.

Tweeting late Tuesday, Khanna said that even "fairly informed" voters are being duped by the video, which is slowed down to make Pelosi appear drunk and incoherent.

"Tonight, over dinner, a fairly informed voter said to me that given the events of last week, Nancy Pelosi had to go," Khanna tweeted.  "After my surprise, he asked had I not seen the videos. I explained they were doctored. He replied cavalierly, 'Oh I didn’t know.'"

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"Facebook must remove the video," Khanna, who is a close Pelosi ally, added. 

The video, which initially went viral online last Thursday, has garnered millions of views on Facebook and Twitter, with thousands of online commenters seemingly buying into the manipulated video. 

Facebook and Twitter have both declined to take down the video, while YouTube has removed it. After third-party fact-checkers determined the video was "false," Facebook opted for a middle-of-the-road solution. Now, when users try to share certain versions of the video, they receive a pop-up message encouraging them to read "additional reporting" on the video, with links to articles that note the video has been manipulated.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE last week tweeted a separate video of Pelosi that, while not manipulated in the same way, shows Pelosi appearing to stammer through speeches by editing a number of clips in quick succession. Twitter has declined to comment on the record about the president's tweet.

During an appearance on CNN last week, Khanna defended Pelosi against Trump's ongoing attacks, saying: "She has been civil ... the president has launched a personal attack on her and is amplifying doctored video." 

"I will say this as a Silicon Valley congressperson: Facebook needs to remove that doctored video immediately," Khanna said. "They haven’t done that. Imagine if CNN were saying 'we’re going to limit distribution' but still showing the video. It’s absurd. They need to remove it."

Facebook has opted to limit the distribution of the video on its News Feed. 

Pelosi has not commented publicly on the video so far. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in a statement to The Hill said he believes the video should be taken down, noting that YouTube almost immediately decided to take it down once it was flagged by The Washington Post. 

"I believe this video — and any dishonestly doctored video that is widespread and misleading the public — should be taken down, just as YouTube has done in this instance," Hoyer said. 
 
Experts have said the video represents a new frontier in online disinformation, and voters should reasonably expect manipulated video footage to play an even larger role ahead of the 2020 presidential election.