TikTok is hosting videos spreading a deceptively edited Biden clip, despite the platform's new anti-misinformation policy
Update (3/11/20): Two of the videos pushing the deceptive clip, including the one from @therepublicanhypehouse, have been taken down. The links to the videos now show a “video currently unavailable” message when accessed via a desktop computer. The two videos had received more than 30,000 views combined before they were removed.
Update (8/4/20): On August 3, @conservativehypehouse, another major conservative account on TikTok, posted the deceptively edited Biden clip, receiving more than 200,000 views. This comes after TikTok confirmed to Business Insider in March that the deceptive clip violated its rules.
Update (8/5/20): The @conservativehypehouse video has now been taken down, after receiving more than 250,000 views.
Social media platform TikTok is hosting multiple videos that feature a deceptively edited clip of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, despite the platform's new misinformation policy that specifically mentions elections. The videos have tens of thousands of views, including via a prominent conservative account on the platform.
On March 7, White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino tweeted a video showing Biden at a campaign rally saying, “We can only reelect Donald Trump.” The clip leaves out the rest of Biden's remark; he said, “We can only reelect Donald Trump if, in fact, we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It's got to be a positive campaign.”
The deceptive clip, which originated from Twitter user @thebradfordfile, an account known for spreading false claims, was later shared by Trump and his administration on both Twitter and Facebook. In response, Twitter announced it would label the video as “manipulated media” as part of its new policy to point out misleading content -- though its effort didn’t go according to plan -- and Facebook labeled it “partly false information” after one of its partner fact-checking organizations noted that the video was misleading.
The deceptive clip has also made its way to TikTok via multiple videos. This is despite a major update the platform announced to its community guidelines in January, which includes a section on “misleading information” stating that the platform does “not permit misinformation that could cause harm to our community or the larger public” and that it will “remove misinformation that could cause harm to an individual's health or wider public safety.” The section also specifically prohibits “content that misleads community members about elections or other civic processes.”
The videos on TikTok containing the deceptively edited footage of Biden have more than 36,000 views combined. One of the videos, with more than 29,000 views and the caption “Biden is starting to make more sense now,” is from an account called @therepublicanhypehouse, which The New York Times in February mentioned as one of a number of political accounts growing in popularity that essentially serve as “short-form TV networks” for TikTok’s users.
Another video, with more than 3,000 views, featured a person falsely saying, “Hey, it was Vice President Biden that said they cannot win this election and they must reelect Donald Trump,” followed by the deceptive clip.
Other videos showed a man playing audio of the clip from a car and two people laughing at the clip and calling Biden a “Russian spy who’s gonna get trump re elected” in the caption; together, these videos had thousands of views. (Media Matters has removed identifying information from a video created by and featuring minors to protect their identities.)
The lack of action by TikTok in response to the videos comes as the platform continues to struggle with enforcing its anti-misinformation policies. Since January, the platform has also struggled to control the spread of videos pushing misinformation about the coronavirus.