Screenshot TikTok/Malachi O’Brien, Screenshot Twitter/@TrumpWarRoom
- A viral clip of Joe Biden edited down to him saying “We can only re-elect Donald Trump” has been deemed manipulated, misleading, and partly false, by Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook, respectively.
- On TikTok, the watchdog organization Media Matters pointed out that, while the clip breaks the platform’s community guidelines, it remained up across multiple accounts, including “@therepublicanhypehouse.”
- After Business Insider reached out to TikTok about why the clip was still live on the platform, the app removed it – but its presence shows TikTok’s struggle with effective content moderation.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
TikTok’s efforts to take down a viral clip of Joe Biden deemed misleading shows the wildly popular short-form video app is struggling to enforce its “Misleading information” policy in an environment full of conspiracy theories and fake news.
What started as a viral Twitter clip of the former Vice President saying “We can only re-elect Donald Trump” migrated to TikTok after Donald Trump’s campaign’s “@TrumpWarRoom” account disseminated the deceptively edited clip.
In Biden’s full speech, he said “We can only re-elect Donald Trump if, in fact, we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It’s got to be a positive campaign.” The trimmed clip was picked up by influential conservative Twitter accounts like Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, who distributed it to his 1.6 million followers with the caption “I finally agree with Joe Biden on something!”
Joe Biden sums up his campaign:
“We cannot win this re-election. We can only re-elect Donald Trump.” pic.twitter.com/TrO7pCUCUT
Both Twitter and Facebook labeled the Biden clip manipulated and partly false, respectively, adding flags to the content on their platforms that directed users to explanations of why the clip is misleading.
TikToks with the same sarcastic approach to the clip were then distributed on the platform by accounts like “@therepublicanhypehouse,” a conservative play on the popular teen TikTok collective the Hype House, which has nearly 300,000 TikTok followers.
After Media Matters noted the deceptively edited TikToks of Biden, the app took down one of their examples, but not the other
That TikTok and another one posted by pastor and conservative social media personality Malachi O’Brien were featured in a Media Matters article about TikTok failing to enforce its own Community Guidelines.
Screenshot/TikTok, Malachi O’Brien
“This is a policy that’s different from any other tech platform I’ve seen, but if you’re going to have a policy like this you need to have the resources to be able to enforce it,” senior Media Matters research Alex Kaplan told Business Insider. “At least in the cases I’ve seen so far, they haven’t.”
Kaplan was referring to a specific line from TikTok’s “Misleading information” policy that it released in early January this year. It directs users to not post “Content that misleads community members about elections or other civic processes.”
“The fact is that it’s a video that, when cut a certain way, implies something that did not happen,” Kaplan said, referring to the Biden clip posted by the two TikTok accounts. “And maybe they think it could seem like a joke, but who’s to say that someone couldn’t think it’s real and take it seriously? They don’t know that for sure.”
Kaplan didn’t reach out to TikTok directly about either account featured in the Media Matters article, but after it was published, O’Brien’s TikTok featuring the Biden clip was removed for violating the app’s guidelines.
When Business Insider reached out to TikTok about the “@therepublicanhypehouse” clip, the app removed it as well, citing the same “Misleading information” policy, as well as TikTok’s guidelines on “Integrity and authenticity.”
The admins of “@therepublicanhypehouse” didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but O’Brien said he at first didn’t realize why his video had been removed, since he didn’t see the Media Matters article. Even knowing the reason behind his violation, O’Brien doesn’t feel like his TikTok was misleading.
“I think most people are really discerning, and they would fully understand that was just one of those Joe Biden gaffe moments. I don’t think anyone would go, ‘Oh, I can’t believe he said that,'” O’Brien told Business Insider. “It’s so outrageous of a statement, that’s why I thought it might have a viral possibility. I don’t think anybody would be misled.”