Trump Team Pushes Social Media Limits As Election Looms

AFP
September 05, 2020

A message saying you "won't be safe" in Joe Biden's America. The former vice president shown "sleeping" during a television interview. Biden "hiding" -- alone -- in his basement.

All three videos featured in social media of President Donald Trump and his team as recently as the past week as he sought to close the gap on his Democratic rival. And each was labeled as false or manipulated content by social media giants and fact checkers.

While negative campaigning has long been a fixture of American politics, the open use of digitally-altered images by Trump and other candidates in 2020 has tech giants worried.

Twitter has cracked down by removing or labeling several of the president's tweets. Facebook, citing the risk of civil unrest, announced Thursday that it would not allow new political ads on its platform in the last week of the November 3 race.

There remain questions whether such messages -- almost impossible to stop once they become viral -- are working on voters but a line has already been crossed.

"There's a long tradition in politics of competing politicians presenting their opponents' words or beliefs in edited ways, right? That's part of politics," Ethan Porter, assistant professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, told AFP.

"On the other hand, the Trump campaign is in part running a campaign entirely detached from reality, in ways that have little to no precedent in American political history."

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