Facebook faced growing criticism this week over its decision not to remove a video that was doctored to suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was intoxicated during a recent public event. The video, which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, had been slowed down notably, giving the impression that Pelosi was slurring her words.
The Washington Post was first to report on the video Thursday, resulting in YouTube taking down a copy hosted on its service. However, Facebook decided not to follow suit, with a spokesperson telling Variety that the video didn’t violate its community standards. The company didn’t have a policy that content posted on its service had to be true, the spokesperson added.
Facebook had the video evaluated by one of its third-party fact-checkers, who deemed it false. As a result, the company began to limit its distribution, demoting it in people’s news feeds. It also added links to fact checking articles to the video itself.
However, the effectiveness of those contextual links is debatable. Users who find the video on the Politics Watchdog Facebook page only get to see those links after 2 additional clicks, and many users may never see them at all.
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Apparently, the producers of the video also managed to dupe some within President Trump’s inner circle. The President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani tweeted a link to the video on Thursday, asking: “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre.”
Giuliani later deleted that tweet, but defended the video itself on Friday, calling it “a caricature exaggerating her already halting speech pattern.”