Liberal journalists are once again panicking over a video that made House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look foolish.
“Facebook's fact-checkers on Sunday labeled it as ‘partly false’ a video that it said was manipulated to make it appear as if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was drunk or drugged,” CNN reported August 3. The video had reportedly circulated on Facebook for a few days and has reached more than 2 million views.
The clip was shared with the caption, "This is unbelievable, she is blowed out of her mind, I bet this gets taken down!" The Hill summarized that the footage in question was a “55-second video from a May press conference in which Pelosi addresses comments President Trump made about MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, an outspoken critic of the president.”
Notoriously liberal fact-checker, Lead Stories, fact-checked the post on Sunday, commenting that the "Tempo of the video was slowed and sections edited out to make it appear Pelosi was drunk." While it has indeed been labelled as “partly false,” it has not been removed from the platform.
The article that accompanied the fact-check explained that the short clip was “was digitally slowed down to make it appear as if Pelosi was intoxicated. Lead Stories made note that, in reality, “The original video revealed she was speaking and acting normally.”
A similar incident happened in May 2019 when journalists panicked over a slowed-down video that made Pelosi appear to be slurring her words. Facebook has not removed either video from the platform. Instead, the platform has placed a label on both. CNN observed that “Videos marked false are also promoted less by Facebook's algorithms, the company says.” Facebook also reportedly pledged that it will send notifications to people who shared the video to show it was fact-checked.
Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone explained, according to CNN, that this video did not violate the platform’s policies:
"Following an incident over a year ago with a previous video of Speaker Pelosi, we took a number of key steps, making it very clear to people on Facebook when a third-party fact-checker determines content to be false and updating our policy to make explicit the kind of manipulated media we will remove. And, as always, when a video is determined false, its distribution is dramatically reduced and people who see it, try to share it, or have already shared it, see warnings alerting them that it's false."
University of California Berkeley visual forensic expert and professor Hany Farid reviewed the video on Sunday and told CNN it had been edited and slowed down. Farid observed that "This appears to be the same type of manipulation (of) the Speaker Pelosi that made the rounds last year."
Prominent tech journalist New York Times contributor and Recode co-founder Kara Swisher condemned Facebook for allowing the May 2019 Pelosi deepfake video to spread. “This week, unlike YouTube, Facebook decided to keep up a video deliberately and maliciously doctored to make it appear as if Speaker Nancy Pelosi was drunk or perhaps crazy,” she wrote.
The August 2020 Pelosi video itself was reportedly posted on TikTok and had reached 37,000 before a TikTok spokesperson told CNN that it had been removed for violating the platform’s "synthetic media policy,” declaring:
"Our users value seeing authentic content on TikTok, and we do, too, which is why we remove harmful misleading and deceptive content as we become aware of it."
The August 2020 Pelosi video has also been purged from Twitter and YouTube. YouTube spokesperson Farshad Shadloo reportedly explained to CNN that the video had been removed for violating manipulated media policies.