House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up a copy of President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address was an earth shattering moment in a year of rule-bending U.S. politics. Once again, the Pelosi’s actions fired up everyone from members of Congress to everyone at home. But Pelosi now takes on two new foes in light of her viral speech-ripping moment: Facebook and Twitter.
Last week, Trump posted a manipulated video of Pelosi ripping up his speech, titled “Powerful American Stories Ripped to Shreds by Nancy Pelosi,” to Twitter and Facebook. The five-minute video chops up important moments from throughout the night of Trump’s speech — like reuniting military families and acknowledging low unemployment rates. Between the moments, it slips in the footage of Pelosi ripping up the speech as if it happened multiple times.
In reality, Trump’s SOTU speech went uninterrupted, and Pelosi’s speech-ripping moment happened at the very end, after he was done speaking for the night. Pelosi’s office acted swiftly the day the video was posted, reaching out to both social media platforms to remove the misleading video. But, both Facebook and Twitter have declined to do so.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief-of-staff, took to Twitter on Friday to clear the air, writing that “The American people know that the President has no qualms about lying to them — but it is a shame to see Twitter and Facebook, sources of news for millions, do the same.” He continued “The latest fake video of Speaker Pelosi is deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people, and every day that these platforms refuse to take it down is another reminder that they care more about their shareholders’ interests than the public’s interests.”
Hammill’s tweets caught the attention of Andy Stone, a member of Facebook’s communication’s team, who replied, “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?” From there, a heated back and forth between Pelosi's team and the Facebook communication team commenced, both trying to argue the opposing sides of whether or not the manipulated video should be taken down. Hammill shot back at Stone saying, “What planet are you living on? this is deceptively altered. take it down.”
Ultimately, the Facebook team as a whole replied by not removing the video; Facebook’s media manipulation policy states that videos are only removed if they imply the subjects in them have said or done something they didn’t actually do. The clearly manipulated footage is able to stay up because Trump actually said the words included in his address and Pelosi actually ripped up the speech, regardless of the order they’re in in the video.
Facebook has been one of the primary culprits of spreading misinformation in the age of fake news. The social media platform is choosy with enforcing its media manipulation policy, in the past running political ads that contained intentionally false information about public figures and candidates; Elizabeth Warren herself tested this with a fake ad of Mark Zuckerberg endorsing Trump. Twitter, however, has gone in a slightly more admirable direction: the platform announced on Tuesday, February 4 that it would label and remove clearly manipulated forms of media beginning on March 5. Twitter also banned political ads in November of 2019.