Facebook Censors Unedited Video of Biden Posted by Trump Campaign

Social network admits error, reverses decision

Facebook screenshot
September 16, 2020

Facebook on Wednesday incorrectly declared that a Trump campaign post with unedited video of Joe Biden was "false," later reversing its decision.

The video of Biden playing the song "Despacito" shared by the Trump campaign’s Latinos for Trump coalition was flagged for containing information that "has no basis in fact." The video did not immediately play, prompting Facebook users to click to "See Why" the video is false or click to watch the supposedly false video.

On Tuesday, during Biden's Hispanic Heritage event in Kissimmee, Fla., he said, "I just have one thing to say," before playing Luis Fonsi's 2019 hit "Despacito" from his phone. Latinos for Trump was one of many who were quick to make fun of the former vice president, who is 77 years old and has struggled to attract Latino voters.

"I wonder why he’s struggling with Hispanics?" Latinos for Trump said in its post Wednesday.

President Donald Trump retweeted an edited version of video Wednesday, in which the song that Biden plays is N.W.A.'s "F— Tha Police." Facebook used PolitiFact to clarify that the song Biden played from his phone was "Despacito," not "F— Tha Police." But Facebook cited that PolitiFact report as evidence that Latinos for Trump's video was false, although it had the authentic audio.

Late Wednesday night, Facebook told the Washington Free Beacon that the video was censored in error and is no longer flagged as "false."

This week Facebook also removed an ad targeting Sen. Gary Peters (D., Mich.) and Joe Biden for their support of the Equality Act. The ad came from the conservative interest group American Principles Project and was removed after PolitiFact labeled the claims potentially misleading. PolitiFact did not actually dispute any facts in the ad, and Facebook also did not name any factual errors.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has faced strident criticism from the mainstream media for how Facebook supposedly helped Trump get elected, told CNBC in 2019 that the purpose of their fact-checking is to "catch the worst of the worst stuff."

"The point of that program isn't to try to parse words on is something slightly true or false," Zuckerberg said. "In terms of political speech, again, I think you want to give broad deference to the political process and political speech."

Updated Sep. 17 at 10:25 a.m.: This post was updated with Facebook's reversal of its decision.