Major digital companies have reacted differently to slow the viral spread of a subtly manipulated video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – a video that could be a harbinger of the political digital fakery to come in 2020 and beyond.
A video that appeared to have been digitally altered to slow the speech of the House Speaker at a recent public appearance, making her appear impaired, made the rounds on social media and major digital platforms in recent days.
YouTube said it had removed versions of the slowed-down video, saying it violated company policies.
A representative for Facebook said their third-party fact-checking partners had deemed the video “false,” and the social media giant was “heavily reducing its distribution” in Facebook’s newsfeed. Versions of the video still exist on Facebook, however, one of which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times as of this report.
A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment, but at least one version is still live on that platform as of this report. Twitter’s media policy bans videos that show things like “gratuitous gore” or “adult content,” but doesn’t mention deceptively altered videos.
The slowed-down video was one of two controversial Pelosi videos in the news. The other, heavily edited footage of Pelosi appearing to stammer during another speech, was retweeted by President Trump Thursday, a move that came as the two political leaders traded increasingly personal public jabs.
Ben Nimmo, an information defense fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Lab, said that the slowed-down video is the latest example of the growing ease with which online content can be altered to sow chaos in the political process – a threat that he expects will only grow as the 2020 presidential race approaches.