The Facebook Oversight Board is reviewing a new case involving a doctored video of President Joe Biden that could reshape Meta’s policies on “manipulated media” ahead of the 2024 election.
The video in question includes an altered clip of Biden placing an “I Voted” sticker on his granddaughter’s chest and kissing her cheek during last year’s midterm elections. That footage was edited to repeat Biden’s motion of touching the girl’s chest set to Pharoahe Monch’s “Simon Says” when the rapper says, “Girls, rub on your titties.” It was posted on Facebook with a caption calling Biden “a sick pedophile.”
In a press release Monday, the Oversight Board said that a Facebook user reported the video to Meta, but the company did not remove the post. Meta argued that its “manipulated media” policy only applies to AI-generated content or when “a subject is shown saying words they did not say.”
“Although this case involves President Biden, it touches on the much broader issue of how manipulated media might impact elections in every corner of the world”
“Although this case involves President Biden, it touches on the much broader issue of how manipulated media might impact elections in every corner of the world,” Thomas Hughes, the director of the Oversight Board administration, said in a statement Monday. “Free speech is vitally important, it’s the cornerstone of democratic governance, but there are complex questions concerning what Meta’s human rights responsibilities should be regarding video content that has been altered to create a misleading impression of a public figure.”
Meta first adopted its manipulated media policy in 2020. In a blog post announcing the change, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, wrote that the new rules would allow the platform to remove AI-generated content that was doctored “in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead them.”
Still, the policy hardly addressed some of the most criticized altered viral videos posted on the platform at the time. The edited videos — one altered to show then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slurring her words and another clip of candidate Biden falsely making a racist remark — were likely used with widely accessible editing software like iMovie.
The video of Biden in Monday’s case announcement falls into this bucket of manipulated videos that Meta has declined to remove in the past. While the Oversight Board is allowed to review and make policy suggestions, Meta is not required to implement any changes it suggests.
The public comment window is open until October 24th. Once the board makes a decision, Meta will have 60 days to respond.