Twitter labels deepfake video shared by Trump aide as ‘manipulated media’

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Twitter labeled a tweet by White House director of social media Dan Scavino as “manipulated media” today. The original, unaltered video shows Harry Belafonte asleep in an interview with a local TV station. The video shared by Scavino replaces Belafonte’s face with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The Scavino video has been seen more than one million times since being shared roughly one day ago on Twitter. CBS Sacramento anchor John Dabkovich tweeted that he knew the video was a fake six hours ago.

At the time this story was published, Twitter hasn’t removed the video, and Scavino has not deleted the post sharing the doctored video.

Twitter introduced its synthetic and manipulated media policy in February, and considers whether shared content is manipulated with editing to be deceptive or capable of causing serious harm. Whether a video is labeled or removed entirely is decided on a case-by-case basis. Accounts associated with repeat offenses of the synthetic and manipulated media policy can be permanently suspended, according to the policy.

Scavino was the first known Twitter user to have a tweet labeled as manipulated media for sharing an altered video in March which Trump retweeted that falsely depicts Biden endorsing Trump. A former Trump golf caddie and longtime aide to President Trump, Scavino was appointed to White House social media director earlier this year and last week spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Earlier today, Twitter also labeled a video shared by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) as manipulated media for sharing a video interview related to police funding, which Scalise eventually deleted, according to CNN. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has not said he’s in favor of defunding the police.

Concern over manipulated media and disinformation is high as U.S. citizens prepare to vote to elect the next president of the United States on November 3.

VentureBeat pinged the White House for comment on whether the White House uses any tools to detect deepfake videos, whether Scavino will take down the video, and whether the White House director of social media will face any consequences for sharing a deepfake video.


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