President Trump’s struggles against social media platform Twitter continued this week, following nearly a month of tense exchanges. While the platform has issued more than one warning to the president recently –for inciting violence or spreading misinformation — this latest upset is drawing criticism for misusing a wholesome viral video for political purposes.
A Viral Video Manipulated
On Thursday evening, June 18, the president tweeted out a video credited to user @CarpeDonktum. The video was an edit of a popular viral video of two boys, one black and one white, playing together.
The version shared by the president is heavily edited to mimic a CNN news clip. Footage of the white boy running after the black child is isolated, with a banner reading “Terrified Todler [sic] Runs From Racist Baby.” At one point the banner switches to read “Racist Baby Probably a Trump Voter.”
The video then purports to show “what really happened” before switching to footage of the children greeting each other with a friendly embrace. No CNN logos or news graphics appear in this portion of the clip. The video ends with a warning that “only you can prevent fake news dumpster fires.”
A Twitter Warning for Trump
Hours after the president shared the video, Twitter attached a warning to the post labeling it “manipulated media.” The label links to sources confirming that the footage was doctored.
Included within this information is a link to CNN‘s actual coverage of the viral video. “These two toddlers are showing us what real-life besties look like,” the headline reads, over a still of the children hugging.
CNN reacted quickly and strongly to the video, pointing out that they reported accurately on the story.
pic.twitter.com/vnRpk0zl5y— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2020
“CNN did cover this story — exactly as it happened,” a tweet from CNN Communications read. “Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better.”
The father of one of the boys in the video, Michael Cisneros, also had disapproving words for the president.
“HE WILL NOT TURN THIS LOVING, BEAUTIFUL VIDEO TO FURTHER HIS HATE AGENDA,” Cisneros wrote in a Facebook post following the president’s tweet.
Continuing Social Media Disputes
This incident is the latest in a procession of disputes between the president and social media platforms. Last month, Twitter added fact-checks to tweets of his decrying mail-in ballots, prompting a sharp backlash from Trump.
A few days later, Twitter flagged a post from the president for glorifying violence when he tweeted, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Trump has recently butted heads with Facebook as well. Earlier on Thursday, the platform removed ads run by his re-election campaign that utilized Nazi imagery. In response, the campaign claimed that the symbol represents Antifa, the left-wing activist group Trump has recently targeted.
Meanwhile, the doctored video is no longer viewable on the president’s Twitter post. According to a message in its place, it has been disabled in response to a request from the copyright owner.