WASHINGTON – A Facebook Inc. executive told CNN the company wouldn’t remove a manipulated video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stating that there’s no policy that says content on the social networking website must be accurate.
The video shows Pelosi appearing to slur her words and stammer, as if drunk or mentally incapacitated. In reality, someone had taken a clip of Pelosi, in which her speech was normal, and altered its speed and the tone of her voice to create the effect.
Some prominent Republicans, including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, shared the video of the California Democrat on social media.
“What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre,” Giuliani wrote in a tweet that’s since been deleted.
The video has been viewed and shared on social media millions of times. YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, eventually deleted the footage. However, Facebook has declined to remove it, instead adding warnings to indicate that independent fact checkers have rated it as false and downgrading how often it appears in users’ news feeds.
“If it’s misinformation related to safety, we can and we do remove it,” said Monika Bickert, a Facebook vice president for product policy and counterterrorism in an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper.
“But when we’re talking about political discourse and misinformation around that, we think the right approach is to let people make an informed choice” and to work with independent fact-checkers to attach warning labels on suspect content, Bickert said.
“We think it’s important for people to make their own informed choice about what to believe,” she added.
Trump on Thursday shared with his 60 million Twitter followers a separate clip from Fox Business Network in which comments from Pelosi at a press conference had been edited to give the impression she was in mental decline. The president added the all-caps notation, “Pelosi stammers through news conference.”
In the clip, Ed Rollins, a Republican political consultant, said Pelosi “needs to kind of step to the background and not be out front as much.” Another Fox journalist wondered if Pelosi is “Speaker in name only now.”