Twitter labeled a video tweeted by President Donald Trump on Thursday night as “manipulated media” because it attributes to news media a nonexistent story on race.
The video depicts a fake CNN headline that states, “TERRIFIED TODDLER RUNS FROM RACIST BABY,” as a Black toddler runs ahead of a white toddler in the same direction and ominous music plays.
The video then displays the words, “WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED,” and shows the original clip of two children running toward each other on a sidewalk before embracing as Harry Connick Jr.’s version of the Carpenter’s “Close to You” plays.
“AMERICA IS NOT THE PROBLEM,” the video proclaims. “FAKE NEWS IS.”
“IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” it says. “ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FAKE NEWS DUMPSTER FIRES.”
“With all the racism and hate going on I just think it’s a really beautiful video,” Maxwell’s father, Michael Cisneros, said in a video CNN posted online and labeled as being from WPIX television in New York City.
CNN responded Thursday night to Trump’s post, saying on Twitter, “CNN did cover this story — exactly as it happened. 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 video tweeted by Trump appears to be watermarked Carpe Donktum, a Trump-supporting creator who has made other manipulated content. It comes as Trump faces criticism over his response to weeks of protests over the in-custody death of George Floyd.
Asked about the manipulated media label, a Twitter spokesperson said by email, “This Tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context.”
The platform’s page on manipulated content reads, “You should be able to find reliable information on Twitter. That means understanding whether the content you see is real or fabricated and having the ability to find more context about what you see on Twitter.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere, said, “If Twitter is not careful, it’s going to have to label itself a ‘manipulator.'”
This was the first time Twitter has labeled one of Trump’s tweets as containing manipulated media.
In May, Twitter placed fact-check labels on a pair of tweets from Trump suggesting mail-in ballots breed voter fraud. Days later a tweet by Trump that said, “When the shooting starts, the looting starts,” was placed behind a warning label that said it violated its rules against glorifying violence.
Shannon Pettypiece contributed.