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Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a weekly news conference on May 16, 2019. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a weekly news conference on May 16, 2019. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

‘Willing enablers’

Nancy Pelosi rebukes Facebook, saying the site knowingly profits from propaganda

By WITW Staff on May 31, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has issued a fiery criticism of Facebook, saying the company’s refusal to remove doctored videos of her shows how the site spreads misinformation — and how it enabled Russian interference in the last presidential election.

“We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians,” Ms. Pelosi said in an interview with San Francisco public radio station KQED, according to The New York Times. “I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false.”

In one of the doctored videos, Pelosi’s speech was slowed down to make it appear that she was slurring her words. The video was shared by President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in a tweet that has since been deleted, according to the Times. “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre,” he tweeted. The video has been viewed millions of times on Facebook.

President Trump shared a separate video of Pelosi, an edited clip from Fox Business that spliced together bits from a 20-minute news conference, emphasizing times when she had stumbled on her words, according to the Times. “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE,” he tweeted.

Pelosi said Facebook’s refusal to take down the videos shows that the site is “lying to the public.” She noted, “I think they have proven — by not taking down something they know is false — that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election.”

Facebook declined to comment on the remarks, according to the Times. But it has defended its decision not to remove the false videos. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Monika Bickert, vice president for product policy and counterterrorism at Facebook, said the videos do not violate the platform’s standards. She noted that the videos appear with a message directing users to fact-checks. “We have acted,” she told CNN. “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.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has slammed the videos as well. Speaking at a Democratic Party event in Houston, she said, “The president and his cronies have been running around spreading a doctored video of Nancy Pelosi. Now, it is sexist trash, but it is also a sign that Trump is running scared.”

Clinton also rebuked Facebook during a commencement address at Hunter College. “The big social media platforms know their systems are being manipulated by foreign and domestic actors to sow division, promote extremism, and spread misinformation — but they won’t get serious about cleaning up their platforms unless consumers demand it. And we saw why it’s so important just last week, when Facebook refused to take down a fake video of Nancy Pelosi,” she said, according to Politico. “The video is sexist trash. And YouTube took it down, but Facebook kept it up.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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