Twitter has recently rolled out its new designator on the site to alert readers of possibly deceptive videos. This has been ostensibly established for the campaign season, as a way to protect unwary users from being duped by nefarious political operatives. Of course, in doing so they use an unclear format, and it appears to be arbitrary in application.
Unsurprisingly it appears that this may become yet another way that the platform can target conservative accounts — selectively. The new designation was applied to this tweet, from the White House social media director who sent out a clip of a Joe Biden gaffe-filled speech.
Sleepy Joe💤in St. Louis, Missouri today:
— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) March 8, 2020
Washington Post tech reporter Cat Zakrzewski notes the new designation coming up in the timelines of some users.
Just in: Twitter applied its new manipulated media label for the first time to a deceptively edited video of Joe Biden. It was shared by White House social media director Dan Scavino, and retweeted by the president. pic.twitter.com/PggcCwMNkx
— Cat Zakrzewski (@Cat_Zakrzewski) March 8, 2020
That term ”Manipulated Media” is quite the euphemism. It seems to carry the heft of ”deceptively edited”, except what it is designating it that the video clip was cut down. There was a segment in Biden’s speech that was trimmed, where he said, ”We can only re-elect Donald Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad.“
This is where we get into the unclear aspect. Was the clip edited down? Yes, but is that the same as calling the video ”manipulated”? The clip provided is played unedited. By this measure, almost every video on Twitter would need to be tagged.
For the First time, Twitter has applied the “Manipulated Media” label to a Video.
The Video was clipped, not edited, in a Tweet from @DanScavino that was Retweeted by President Trump.
This video was simply shortened.
This means every single clip on Twitter is “Manipulated”. https://t.co/mi8GI9ktAs
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) March 8, 2020
Yet here is where the subjectivity comes into play. Joe Biden himself has a video clip he sent out.
We can't sit by and lose this country to Donald Trump. Today, we take it back — together.
— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) March 3, 2020
This one is a highly-edited montage, one in which it is clear that numerous video clips are edited together to have the President saying far different things than the original context conveyed.
Twitter lists a number of points it uses to determine ”whether media have been significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated.”
- whether the content has been substantially edited in a manner that fundamentally alters its composition, sequence, timing, or framing;
- any visual or auditory information (such as new video frames, overdubbed audio, or modified subtitles) that has been added or removed; and
- whether media depicting a real person have been fabricated or simulated
Pretty much nailed all three of those definitions in that Biden-produced video. And yet there is no ”Manipulated Media” tag being affixed to this tweet. Clearly, there is a shifting set of standards being applied.
So we have an unclear definition of the new tag, we have it being selectively applied, while all this is being done in the supposed quest to make things on Twitter more clear for users. Yep, sounds like nothing at all has changed with the format on this platform.