In Trump’s tweet posted June 18, the video shows two small boys, one Black and one white. It’s edited to make it falsely appear as if it ran on CNN with the chyrons “Terrified Todler [sic] Runs From Racist Baby” and “Racist Baby Probably a Trump Voter.”
Twitter subsequently applied a “manipulated media” warning to Trump’s post, the first instance of the social network attaching that tag to one of his tweets. The company’s note about the fake video said, “In September 2019, CNN reported on a viral video about a friendship between two toddlers. On Thursday, the president shared a version of the video which many journalists confirmed was edited and doctored with a fake CNN chyron.”
[UPDATE, 5:45 p.m. ET: Both Twitter and Facebook have removed the video in question after receiving copyright-infringement takedown notices.]
Less than 12 hours after Trump shared the video, it had been viewed nearly 14 million times. “America is not the problem. Fake news is,” the video says. “If you see something, say something. Only you can prevent fake news Dumpster fires.”
The faked video shared by the U.S. president was created by pro-Trump meme outfit Carpe Donktum. The clip’s creator may have been aiming for satire rather than explicitly trying to spread disinformation, but many of Trump’s followers did not realize that the video was falsely altered.
CNN’s original story about the pair of 2-year-olds in New York, from Sept. 10, 2019, was headlined, “These two toddlers are showing us what real-life besties look like.” The feature was based on a viral video shared by one of the kids’ dads on Facebook.
Trump also posted the video with the fake CNN chyrons to Facebook, where it had been available without any disclaimers.
Replying to Trump’s bogus video, comedian Sarah Cooper — who has become enormously popular for her videos in which she lip-syncs to Trump’s weird and often untrue statements — commented, “I guess complaining about fake news while sharing fake news about fake news is that next level 4D chess everyone’s talking bout.”
This past March, Twitter affixed the “manipulated media” label to a tweet posted by Trump’s head of social media — and retweeted by the president — that included a video of Joe Biden that was deceptively truncated to make it seem as if Biden admitted Trump’s re-election was inevitable.
Twitter has been more actively fact-checking Trump in recent weeks. Last month, Twitter’s appended fact-checking labels to his inaccurate tweets about mail-in voting — the first time it took such a step. In response, Trump issued an executive order May 28 aiming to remove legal-liability shields social networks have under current U.S. law if they “censor” speech. The president was sued over the order by a tech policy group that said it was unconstitutional. Twitter also applied a warning label hiding a post by Trump about deploying force against protesters in Minneapolis that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”; Twitter deemed that as breaking its rules glorifying violence.
Separately, Facebook on Thursday removed dozens of Trump 2020 campaign ads with Nazi symbols from the service. Facebook said those violated its policy banning “organized hate.” The inverted red triangle in the Trump ads was a Nazi symbol designating political prisoners in World War II concentration camps.