Twitter won't delete misleading Biden clip implying white nationalism

Twitter on Friday confirmed that it will not delete a misleading video clip of Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenNYT to fight White House’s withholdment of emails about Ukraine aid freeze Krystal Ball: ‘Doesn’t hold up’ to say Castro failed to gain traction due to race Warren announces support for new North American trade pact MORE that appeared to show Biden espousing white nationalist talking points, a post that went viral on the platform this week.

The selectively edited clip of Biden, which spotlighted the former vice president saying U.S. culture “is not imported from some African nation,” drew tens of thousands of retweets and likes as some Republicans and critics accused Biden of racism or acting like the “alt-right.”

The clip has reinvigorated conversations around how deceptively edited videos, shared without any disclaimers, could sow discord during this contentious presidential election season. 


The 19-second clip, which was not altered, leaves out the context of Biden’s statements. In the full video, filmed during a campaign stop in December, Biden attributed American struggles with domestic abuse and sexual assault to its European roots.

“Folks, this is about changing the culture,” Biden said. “Our culture. Our culture. It’s not imported from some African nation or some Asian nation. It’s our English jurisprudential culture. Our European culture. That says it’s all right.” 

But the edited video only shows Biden appearing to insist that the U.S. is inherently a European nation. The clip raced across the platform throughout the week, with some established journalists and Republicans sharing it with comments of disdain and criticism as the view count ticked above one million. 

In a statement responding to an inquiry from The Hill, a Twitter spokesperson said, “The Tweet you referenced is not currently a violation of the Twitter Rules.” 

But, according to Twitter, the company is currently drafting a policy around limiting the reach of video footage that has been altered in misleading ways. That policy will likely draw harsher lines around videos that have been doctored using artificial intelligence tools, known as “deepfakes,” but it will also address footage that has been significantly and selectively edited without advanced tools. 


It’s unclear whether the incoming policy would result in the removal of the Biden video. 

Twitter is seriously considering labeling tweets that include “synthetic or manipulated media” or warning users when they’re sharing such content.  

Experts have predicted that the online misinformation during the 2020 election cycle will likely take the form of altered videos and images more often than ever before, posing new challenges to the top tech companies as they try to avoid a repeat of 2016, when a Russian cyber effort successfully spread divisive content in favor of President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump asks New York judge to dismiss rape allegation case NYT to fight White House’s withholdment of emails about Ukraine aid freeze Gabbard blasts Iran strike: ‘Trump’s actions are an act of war’ MORE.  

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