Facebook places ‘partly false’ label on fake Pelosi video that went viral

Bonnie Cash

A “partly false” label was added to a manipulated video shared on Facebook over the weekend that made it appear as if Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was repeatedly slurring her words during a press conference.

However, Facebook elected not to remove the clip, which had garnered millions of views and nearly 90,000 shares as of Monday morning. The episode marked the second instance in which the tech giant has decided against removing an altered video that was slowed to make it seem as if the congresswoman was sick or drunk. CNN first reported on the development. 

The clip in question was shared on Facebook on Saturday with the caption, “this is unbelievable, she is blowed out of her mind, I bet this gets took down!” Included is a 55-second video from a May press conference in which Pelosi addresses comments President Trump made about MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, an outspoken critic of the president. 

Lead Stories, a member of Facebook’s independent fact-checking network, fact-checked the post on Sunday, noting that the “digitally slowed down to make it appear as if Pelosi was intoxicated.” The post now includes a “partly false information” message, which will significantly limit the video’s reach on the platform, according to Facebook policies. Individuals who shared the video will also receive a notification. 

“The original video revealed [Pelosi] was speaking and acting normally,” Lead Stories wrote in its assessment of the manipulated video. 

A Facebook spokesperson told The Hill that the video did not meet the grounds for removal, based on company policies. 

“Following an incident over a year ago with a previous video of Speaker Pelosi, we took a number of key steps, making it very clear to people on Facebook when a third-party fact-checker determines content to be false and updating our policy to make explicit the kind of manipulated media we will remove,” the spokesperson said.
“And, as always, when a video is determined false, its distribution is dramatically reduced and people who see it, try to share it, or have already shared it, see warnings alerting them that it’s false,” the spokesperson continued.

Pelosi’s office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill. 

“This is garbage Facebook,” Christine Pelosi, the daughter of the congresswoman, said in a tweet. “You ⁦@ChanZuckerberg⁩ and ⁦@sherylsandberg⁩ are profiting off fake and vile attacks – and you need to stop. Tell the truth: the video is completely false. Pull it down!”

Facebook has faced regular scrutiny over how it moderates misinformation and altered videos. Democrats criticized the company in May 2019 after it elected not to remove a doctored video of Pelosi that similarly made it seem like she was slurring her words. Facebook placed a “false” label on the video, saying that it did not violate the company’s community standards.

Twitter also elected not to remove that particular video; YouTube did take it down. 

The latest doctored Pelosi video was first shared on TikTok, according to a graphic that appears at the end of the clip. A spokesperson for TikTok told CNN that the company had since taken down the video because of a violation of its “synthetic media policy.”

How quickly the 2019 video of Pelosi spread sparked concerns about the danger that manipulated and doctored clips could pose. While the video did not use advanced technology, disinformation experts have said more sophisticated efforts could be made by foreign actors to sow discord in American politics. 

Tags Donald Trump Facebook Joe Scarborough Nancy Pelosi tiktok
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