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Facebook Claims to Combat Fake News, Yet Refuses to Take Down Fake Video of Nancy Pelosi

Facebook gonna Facebook.

It’s two steps forward one step back for Facebook, as the company defends their decision to host a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite promises to halt the spread of fake news. The video shows Pelosi speaking at Center for American Progress event, with manipulated audio to make it seem as if Pelosi is slurring her speech. YouTube has since removed the video, yet Facebook has been unwilling to take any concrete action.

While Facebook has acknowledged that the video, which has garnered over 2.6 million views is fake, they refuse to remove it. Monika Bickert, Facebook’s VP for Product Policy and Counterterrorism, appeared on CNN to discuss the decision with Anderson Cooper. Bickert responded that “independent third party organizations” confirmed the video’s falseness and the company then “dramatically reduced the distribution” of the video, and added comments below the video warning that it is false.

When Cooper asked why they didn’t just remove the video, Bickert responded by saying “We think it’s important for people to make their own informed choice for what to believe. Our job is to make sure we are getting them accurate information.” The interview, which is worth watching in its entirety, is a frustrating look at the seemingly arbitrary and ineffective policies that Facebook is touting.

In the wake of the 2016 election, Facebook and other social media companies have been scrambling to control the narrative regarding the proliferation of fake news and conspiracy theories. These efforts (and tumbling stock prices) have lead to CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before congress, and a rollout of apology ads from the social networking giant.

These mea culpas range from privacy invasion to selling personal data to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In addition, Facebook has recently announced plans to deplatform white supremacists and hate speech.

But will any of these new policies make a difference in the 2020 election, or will social media users still be vulnerable to a relentless barrage of fake news? Fakes like the doctored Pelosi video are reminiscent of right’s misogynist campaign to paint Hillary Clinton as ill or infirm during the 2016 election. Clinton herself spoke out on the video, calling it “sexist trash, but also a sign that Trump is running scared”.

As deepfake technology becomes more widespread, we can expect to see plenty more doctored videos across all social media platforms. If companies like Facebook don’t take responsibility and implement concrete steps to block fake news, then the 2020 election may be even more tainted than 2016. And that’s a terrifying thought.

(via Washington Post, image: CNN)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.