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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty

An altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that shows her speaking slowly as if drunk is spreading on social media.

Why it matters: The clip, which appears to have been slowed to make Pelosi's speech sound slurred, has found traction on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, highlighting how easily even the simplest manipulated media can mushroom on social platforms.

“There is no question that the video has been slowed to alter Pelosi’s voice,” Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at UC Berkeley, told the Post's Drew Harwell.

  • Clips from the same speech shared by news organizations show her speaking at an average speed.
  • The video has already been watched tens of thousands of times.

The big picture: Experts are wringing their hands over the potential for deepfakes — AI-manipulated videos, audio and photos — to stir up political mayhem. But so far, the vast majority of media altered to mislead has been extremely simple.

  • The easiest way to confuse is just to take a photo or video out of context, mislabeling or mischaracterizing it. A common example: archived clips of missile strikes in Iraq repurposed to look like a new American or Russian attack in Syria.
  • Bad Photoshops fall into this category, too. It doesn't take much to put a political leader in a seemingly compromising situation with an altered photo.

Here, a simple slowdown — while preserving the speaker's pitch — is paired with an explicit claim that Pelosi is intoxicated. One example video description from YouTube, paired with a copy of the video uploaded by a user with a Trump campaign sign avatar:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi drunk giving an interview babbling about President Trump being involved in a "cover up" They didn't embarrass themselves enough on the "Russian Collusion" thing. Share this disgrace...

President Trump tweeted a different video of Pelosi on Thursday evening, this one edited to highlight moments in a recent speech where she stumbled or stuttered. It did not appear to have been otherwise manipulated.

What they're saying: Social media platforms must balance the potential dangers of misinformation with free speech concerns when deciding what to do with videos like this one.

  • YouTube took down the video after Axios asked Google, its parent company, for comment. In a statement, a spokesperson said the videos, which violated YouTube policy, "did not surface prominently," and that searches for Nancy Pelosi returned videos from "authoritative sources."
  • Facebook said the video was sent to a fact checker, but that by 4 pm Pacific, none had rated the video. If they were to rate the video as misleading, Facebook says it would reduce its distribution in users' newsfeeds — but not take the clip down.
  • Twitter declined to comment on the record. The clip remains viewable on Twitter.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is the founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shown on the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day 1 immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

13 hours ago - Sports

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

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