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Reminder: Video editing still beats deepfakes for spreading disinformation

Reuters/Brian Snyder
Context matters.
  • Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Deepfake videos are definitely concerning, but a new viral video clip confirms once again that you don’t need sophisticated AI techniques to effectively spread disinformation.

A Twitter user simply chopped up footage of recent remarks by former vice president Joe Biden, taking a part of the remarks out of context to make the presidential candidate sound racist. The tweet, which we’re omitting to avoid further spreading manipulated content, is captioned:

Biden proclaims the ‘European’ identity of America: “Our culture is not imported from some African nation.”

It sounds bad, as if Biden is taking a white-nationalist view of America’s roots. In reality, Biden is talking about the culture of domestic violence, and how permissiveness toward such behavior today comes from English common law and centuries-old attitudes in Europe.

CNN reporter Daniel Dale was among the first to debunk the tweet:

For the entire context, Mediaite has unedited footage of the 15-minute remarks, which are an answer to an audience question at a campaign event.

The Biden clip is reminiscent of another viral political video of Nancy Pelosi, which was altered to look like she was slurring her words. The Pelosi video was slowed down and her voice slightly altered in what experts called a “dumbfake,” while the Biden clip was simply cut strategically. The Biden videos’ editors didn’t use artificial intelligence to change the subjects mouth movements and actual words like in “deepfakes,” essentially creating new footage. They likely used very simple, and possibly free editing tools, and harnessed the power and siloed nature of social media to make the clips spread like wildfire.

Let us know if you know more.

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