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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Tech companies like Twitter and Facebook have struggled with ways label misinformation without appearing biased or without baiting users to game the system.

Why it matters: It may seem obvious that tech companies should let users know when something is false, but sometimes, calling out false content can have unintended consequences.

Driving the news: Twitter on Sunday placed a "manipulated media" label on an edited video of 2020 candidate Joe Biden delivering a speech. It appeared to be the first time Twitter used that label to call out a visual that it considers to have been doctored with the intention of manipulating users.

  • The video was originally tweeted by White House social media director Dan Scavino and retweeted by President Trump.
  • Conservative personalities immediately jumped to Scavino's defense, saying the video wasn't manipulated, only slightly edited.
  • Some asserted that Twitter has in the past not labeled videos as being manipulative when other campaigns have edited them selectively, although the company's policy wouldn't have been applied to any video before March 5.

Our thought bubble: Often when a platform labels something as manipulated or false, its label is weaponized or slammed for being used in a biased manner.

  • For example, Facebook said in 2017 it would no longer use "Disputed Flags" — red flags next to fake news articles — to identify fake news for users, because academic research showed they didn't work and they often have the reverse effect of making people want to click more.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
5 mins ago - Technology

Apple sets September quarter sales record despite later iPhone launch

Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at the Apple 12 launch event in October. Photo: Apple

Apple on Thursday reported quarterly sales and earnings that narrowly exceeded analysts estimates as the iPhone maker continued to see strong demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What they's saying: The company said response to new products, including the iPhone 12 has been "tremendously positive" but did not give a specific forecast for the current quarter.

Supreme Court rejects second GOP effort to cut absentee ballot deadline in N.C.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court, for the second time in two days, rejected a GOP request to shorten the deadline mail-in ballots must be received by North Carolina officials to be counted.

The state of play: The state's deadline had been extended from 3 days to 9 days post-Election Day.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

The vaccine race turns toward nationalism

The coronavirus pandemic is worsening, both in the U.S. and abroad, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths all rising.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of global vaccine development — including why the U.S. and China seem to going at it alone — with medicinal chemist and biotech blogger Derek Lowe.