By Sam Dorman
Published May 25, 2019
Facebook has released a statement amid concerns about its decision not to remove an altered video that went viral -- one concocted to make it seem that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was slurring her words.
Although the social media giant triggered a backlash by not taking down the vid, it said it did reduce the content's distribution and add a disclaimer notifying users that the video was "false."
"We remove things from Facebook that violate our Community standards, and we don't have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true,' the company said Friday, according to ABC7 News.
By Saturday, the video had more than 28,000 comments, nearly 50,000 shares, and at least 2.6 million views. It was posted on Wednesday. Underneath the video's caption, a long list of articles, from labeled fact-checkers, criticized the video.
It showed Pelosi making controversial comments about Trump's alleged behavior during an infrastructure meeting that was cut short earlier this week.
The platform clarified that it didn't think all content deserved to be distributed but allowed some content as forms of expression.
"There's a tension here; we work hard to find the right balance between encouraging free expression and promoting a safe and authentic community, and we believe that reducing the distribution of inauthentic content strikes that balance," it said.
"But just because something is allowed to be on Facebook doesn't mean it should get distribution. In other words, we allow people to post it as a form of expression, but we're not going to show it at the top of News Feed." The platform also outlined how it combated misleading content.
"We fight the spread of false news on Facebook in a number of ways, namely by removing content that violates our Community Standards, like fake accounts; reducing the distribution of content that does not directly violate Community Standards, but still undermines the authenticity of the platform, by demoting it in News Feed; and empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share by informing them with more context in-product and promoting news literacy," it said.
The controversy erupted amid already-growing scrutiny surrounding Facebook and other social media companies and the way they handled content on their platform. Facebook and Twitter specifically took heat for apparent bias against conservatives as well as allowing content promoted by Russians during the 2016 election.
Monika Bickert, Facebook's vice president for product policy and counterterrorism, said on CNN that her company "dramatically" reduced the video's distribution and told users the video was false.
"We have acted ... anybody who is seeing this video in News Feed, anyone who is going to share it with somebody else, anybody who has shared it in the past — they are being alerted that this video is false," she said.
CNN's Anderson Cooper pressed Bickert on why she decided to keep the video on the platform.
"We think it's important for people to make their own informed choice about what to believe. Our job is to make sure that we are getting them accurate information and that's why we work with more than 50 fact-checking organizations around the world," she told Cooper.
She added that the company would remove misinformation related to on-going riots or some kind of threat to physical violence.