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Twitter labels Trump video as ‘manipulated media’

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‘This tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy,’ Twitter says

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter has labeled a video tweeted by President Trump as “manipulated media,” as first reported by The Washington Post. The label is primarily cosmetic, but represents a significant escalation in the ongoing feud between the president and his preferred social media platform.

“This tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context,” Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough told the Post.

The clip edits footage of two children playing into a bizarre warning against race-baiting by the media, presented as a false CNN broadcast with the chyron “terrified todler [sic] runs from racist baby.” Since the presented footage was never actually aired by CNN, the false appearance of a broadcast may have provided the basis for the manipulated media tag.

The video was produced by Carpe Donktum, a prolific pro-Trump meme creator who was suspended from Twitter in October in connection with a Kingsman edit that presented Trump violently assassinating various media brands. A mainstay of Trump’s Twitter account, this appears to be the first time Donktum’s edits have been labeled as “manipulated media,” a tag intended for deepfakes and other inherently deceptive edits.

In practical terms, the label is merely an icon placed below the video, which links to Twitter’s manipulated media policy. It’s easily missed and does not present any meaningful obstacles toward viewing the video. Still, the label represents a significant escalation in Twitter’s moderation of the president, after years of exempting him from most moderation policies because of the inherent newsworthiness of his statements.

On May 26th, Twitter labeled a tweet about mail-in voting as potentially misleading, which led to significant and immediate retaliation from the president, including an executive order that sought to ward off bias in social media moderation.