Perhaps nobody would have noticed if it was not because the US president tweeted it. Last Thursday, the daily Twitter stream of Donald Trump included a video by Nancy Pelosi in which the image has been manipulated in a way that seems to stutter at a press conference.
The president thus brought to the forefront of the world a series of videos manipulated by Pelosi that circulate on the Internet to give the impression that he is not in a position to do his job. The focus, however, is now on Facebook and Twitter, which have not withdrawn the videos despite their alleged commitments to the non-distribution of false information. Facebook came to defend in public its decision not to remove the recordings.
The manipulated video took images of the press conference last Thursday in which Nancy Pelosi explained the failed meeting with the president, in which according to the Democrats had refused in bad ways to agree on an infrastructure plan and had demanded that they cease parliamentary inquiries about him.
The recording highlights some moments in which Pelosi hesitates and highlights them in a way that makes it appear that he has some diction problem. It was aired on ultra-conservative commentator Lou Dobbs’ program on Fox Business Network on Thursday night.
That same Thursday night, the former mayor of New York and today Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, shared on Twitter another video of an intervention by Pelosi evidently slowed down so that it seemed to drag the words. The tweet was erased soon after. Since Thursday, the video has been removed from YouTube. However, it can still be found on social networks.
On Friday, Monika Bickert, vice president of Facebook for Public Policy and Antiterrorism, defended CNN to keep the video on its platform. “Everyone who has seen this video or shared it has been warned that the video is fake,” Bickert said. In effect, a message appears on Facebook recommending that other sources be found on the video. “We think it’s important for people to make their own informed decisions,” Bickert said, asked why she kept the video on the platform once it had been proven false.
The confrontation of Donald Trump with Nancy Pelosi has climbed to the personal level for weeks. The president of the House of Representatives since the Democrats won the majority last November has been a real wall to the president’s obsessions and has propelled parliamentary investigations on Trump and its environment. The president has even said that Pelosi “has lost his mind”.
Pelosi finally responded to the controversy on Wednesday. In an interview with San Francisco radio KQED, he said that Facebook “is publishing something that it knows is false.” “I think it’s wrong,” he said. “For a long time we have said ‘poor Facebook, which was unintentionally exploited by the Russians, I think they have shown, by not withdrawing something that they know is false, that they were voluntary facilitators in the interference of Russia in the elections”.
Facebook’s defense has provoked a media storm in the United States, at a time of special sensitivity when the country is about to start a new electoral campaign and even with the memory of the massive distribution of misinformation directed at specific groups of voters through social networks in 2016.
In an article in The New York Times, technology analyst Kara Swisher called Facebook’s defense “ridiculous.” “The only thing that shows this incident is the expert that Facebook has become in blurring the line between simple mistakes and deliberate deception and thus abdicating its responsibility as the main distributor of news on the planet.”
Just a day before the controversy, Facebook had announced that so far this year has withdrawn 2,200 million false accounts. “The decision to allow false information to circulate on Facebook is not to interpose the values of the company to those who use the platform, it is to impose their values on the culture in general,” says Sue Halpern in an article in The New Yorker.
The image of Facebook is in tatters in terms of the reliability of its initiatives on privacy and misinformation. At the beginning of May, he announced that he was going to remove all the content of extremist characters like Alex Jones or the Reverend Louis Farrakhan. During his annual conference this month, he assured that he would increase the weight on the page of the content among individuals with respect to the news.