Jan 4, 2020

Misleading Biden clip highlights Twitter policy concerns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A video selectively edited to frame one of Joe Biden's stump speeches as racist was shared by GOP strategists and a former speaker of the Missouri House, the New York Times reports, citing data from misinformation tracker VineSight.

Why it matters: Sharing misleading information via social media to incite anger toward presidential candidates is easy — and it works.

What to watch: Twitter's rules for dealing with videos like these, which can go viral for zapping context from a presidential candidate's words, are still being ironed out.

  • Twitter pointed to its in-progress policy on tackling synthetic or manipulated media when asked for guidelines on handling content that misconstrues or alters statements from politicians.
  • But, Twitter declined to comment as to whether the video of Biden would apply to its new policy, since the policy remains in development.

Background: As of now, Twitter has proposed defining manipulated or synthetic media as "as any photo, audio, or video that has been significantly altered or fabricated in a way that intends to mislead people or changes its original meaning."

  • Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy told Axios that the video of Biden "is not currently a violation of the Twitter Rules," which define terms for removing content.

Go deeper: Misinformation haunts 2020 primaries

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Facebook changing deepfake policies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is tightening its policies on "manipulated media," including deepfakes, Monika Bickert, the company's vice president of global policy management, says in a blog post.

Why it matters: Facebook has been criticized for the way it enforces its policies on deepfakes (AI-generated audio and video) and other misleading media. In particular, critics took aim at the tech giant's decision to allow a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to remain on its platform last year.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020

Tech platforms struggle to police deepfakes

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook, TikTok and Reddit all updated their policies on misinformation this week, suggesting that tech platforms are feeling increased pressure to stop manipulation attempts ahead of the 2020 elections.

Why it matters: This is the first time that several social media giants are taking a hard line specifically on banning deepfake content — typically video or audio that's manipulated using artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning to intentionally deceive users.

The dangerous side of limiting Twitter replies

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Twitter's plan to allow users to control who can reply to their posts, announced Wednesday, is largely welcome news for those who are routinely harassed on the service — including many people of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks and other groups often targeted by online mobs.

Why it matters: It could create an even riper environment for misinformation — especially when combined with Twitter's policy of allowing elected officials' tweets to stand, even when they violate the rules that apply to other users.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020