Twitter's New 'Deceptive Video' Labeling Plan Immediately Abused To Attack a Silly Joke Ad from Bloomberg

Nobody is being misled by this obviously joking debate clip. But this sort of ginned-up outrage will be used to target political opponents.


Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first debate outing Wednesday did not go well. He was attacked from all sides, and his record as mayor and businessman was vivisected onstage.

So in a way, this advertisement on Bloomberg's Twitter feed is an almost comical attempt to reclaim some sort of dignity:

In the video, Mike Bloomberg asks if it's "fair" for him to point out that he's the only person in the debate who has started a business, followed by 20 seconds of quick cuts back and forth between the other candidates saying nothing. This is obviously not what actually happened, and the fact that they've edited in crickets chirping is a pretty big tell. But then, the idea that there would be 20 seconds of silence about anything in one of these debates is an absurd, over-the-top concept.

So the ad is clearly a joke, on that's in the spirit of a lot of political advertisements. You'd have to be a pretty credulous rube to think it's real. But some very loud people seem to think you're a rube—or think pretending you're a rube will help them take advantage of some new rules Twitter is implementing in March. And by take advantage of some new rules, I mean chill political speech.

Twitter is rolling out a new system to label, and in some cases remove, "synthetic and manipulated media" that is shared on their social media platform. Specifically, they plan to label any clip that has been "substantially edited in a manner that fundamentally alters its composition, sequence, timing, or framing," as well as media that has been entirely fabricated. They will remove these videos if they believe the content is "likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm." They will carry out these interventions in response to user complaints—including, of course, complaint from rival political campaigns.

Before the policy has even been implemented, we're getting our first example of how it will be manipulated in ways that are transparently phony (not unlike the Bloomberg ad). Ben Rhodes is calling the ad "pure disinformation." Politifact took the time to inform us that there weren't really 20 seconds of silence, in part because its editors saw people screaming "deepfake" on Twitter. Huffington Post writer Jesselyn Cook asked Twitter if Bloomberg's ad would fall under the new policy, and they told her it was "likely" that this video would be labeled as misleading.

If this is how the policy will be implemented, you can expect any attempt to warn Twitter users about deceptive videos to be overwhelmed by political functionaries coming up with excuses to try to browbeat Twitter into tagging their opponents' ads as misleading.

As a private company, Twitter is free to put whatever labels it wants on the videos appearing on its platform. But it needs to be aware of how people with agendas will game the system. This is why media platforms have historically taken a hands-off approach to political advertisements. We shouldn't expect a tech company to take responsibility for assessing how true political videos are. That's our jobs as consumers.

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  1. This is the world you want, Reason.

    1. No, this is the world that IS, and libertarians recognize its messiness and stupidity.

      And that the way to combat sad madness and stupidity is to call it out whenever you see it. Which this article does.

      1. Quite to the contrary, the premise of the article is simply wrong. Saying that “nobody is being misled” by the clip, and that it’s of an “obviously joking” nature, is as foolish as saying that nobody was misled by inappropriately deadpan “parodies” taking the form of outrageous confessions of malfeasance by a distinguished academic department chairman. Such “parodies” are illegal, pure and simple, precisely because of their deceptive nature and the damage they do to reputations–exactly the kind of damage caused by this deceitful clip. See the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

        1. Okay, only brainless totalitarian fuckheads like you who intentionally play obtuse and calculatedly overreact to everything in the hopes of getting the government to step in and control everyone else to suit your narcissistic sociopathy were fooled.


        2. You show up to whine and pimp. Pimps get flagged, pimp.
          Oh, and A1; read it and weep.

        3. Raphael Golb sent defamatory e-mails that were obviously serious, and later claimed they were parodies when he got in legal trouble for it. Fortunately, our legal system is better at recognizing parody than Quixote is.

  2. So it’s a joke son; laugh, son.
    But never overestimate the “stupid American electorate,” right?

    1. Hey now. There is a reason why journalists are asking americans to let them decide. Just ask WaPo.

  3. In truth this is just a way for twitter to support the candidates it like, while censoring the others.

    1. Which is fine. And should be called out.

  4. “So the ad is clearly a joke, on that’s in the spirit of a lot of political advertisements.”

    “But it [twitter] needs to be aware of how people with agendas will game the system. ”

    So the random nobody who used the twitter labeling system against the political ad was a nefarious attempt by an ignorant rube to game the system, unlike the innocent creator of the political ad who was just trying to pick up the pieces of his dignity and have some lighthearted fun in the process.

    I have to say, that is a very moving tale. Have you tried selling the rights to Hallmark yet?

    1. How about just a card that says “Lighten up, Francis” on the inside?

    2. Ben Rhodes is calling the ad “pure disinformation.” Politifact took the time to inform us that there weren’t really 20 seconds of silence, in part because its editors saw people screaming “deepfake” on Twitter. Huffington Post writer Jesselyn Cook asked Twitter if Bloomberg’s ad would fall under the new policy

      Ignorant rubes all of them.

  5. Oh, for God’s sake! It’s just twitter. No real people were misinformed.

  6. Now if I was Reason and Shackelford wrote for some other publication here is where I would condescendingly “remind” him that Twitter is a private business and the 1A does not apply to them plus “how dare you criticize a private platform for exercising their spaghetti monster-given right to block/ban/censor or label user content even if it violates their ToS”.

  7. Bloomberg is a plutocrat that came from a dwarf planet. It makes no difference how bad he looks he will just buy more ads and more politicians that say he’s winning.

  8. This is what protecting Democracy looks like.

  9. Katie Couric did the same thing in a “documentary” (quotes mine) that she aired in 2016. Posed a question and had a series of quick cuts of people not responding to the question. Which is NOT what happened.

    1. (quotes mine)
      Wish you wouldn’t do that. Quotation marks are scary and triggering.

  10. I agree that Twitter’s (and Facebook’s) political bias is bad.

    But this article implies the Bloomberg joke ad will get the label without any real evidence. Actually, it hasn’t been given such a label. Let’s complain about things that do happen.

  11. Political ads that are fully bunk are now an issue for the left?

    Where were their worries when LBJ ran the full-of-shit Daisy ad against Goldwater? That ad is considered political campaign royalty today in political history and campaign tactics. Can you imagine if Americans were really as dumb as Twitter thinks they are and a similar ad ran today? The panic that would induce would be mind boggling.

  12. That ad is freaking hilarious, and anyone who doesn’t think so is pathologically devoid of a sense of humor.

    1. The ad makes a good point – not a damn one of these people has ever built anything and yet they’re arrogantly confident they know best how to run things. Socialists, like any other form of kleptocrats, don’t know how to make anything, they only know how to steal things. It’s why you’ll always see them nationalizing industries but you’ll never see them building one from scratch. Why you gotta claim the workers should own the factories? Why didn’t the workers go build their own factories to start with?

      1. not only is it a good point its a true point yet they want to call it fake when its not fake its the truth to life maybe not what happened in teh debate but if he were to ask that one question and demand a real answer then the silence would have been deafening .

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  14. Twitter’s New ‘Deceptive Video’ Labeling Plan Immediately Abused To Attack a Silly Joke Ad from Bloomberg
    Nobody is being misled by this obviously joking debate clip. But this sort of ginned-up outrage will be used to target political opponents.

    As we all, including you, knew would happen.

    But, live by the ‘something must be done’ sword, die by the ‘something must be done sword’. This whole thing couldn’t have happened to a bigger control freak.

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  16. So, we have to put up with social media shutting down factual right wing content constantly. Snopes and the media call the mashup from SOTU and Pelosi ripping up the speech fake news. On the rare occasion that this bs might hit someone on the left we are suddenly supposed to be upset about how dishonest the people trying to shut it down are?
    It’s a political ad. I don’t see anything misleading here since none of them would have a response to what they have actually built. Just because they used stock footage from the debate to register their silence doesn’t mean anyone was roped into believing this was a direct event from the debate. If anyone believes that, they are stupid. The ad is fine and much less misleading than most political ads. I seriously dislike Bloomberg, but let’s have some principles and use our brains

    1. agreed but you said it better than i would, did

  17. This is going to make genuine editing seem fake, and actually make things more ambiguous. Good job twitter. Lead us into a more stupid future.

  18. You never go Full Snopes.

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  20. “But it needs to be aware of how people with agendas will game the system.”

    I’m sure they’re aware seeing as they have an agenda, but if they don’t like Bloomberg they don’t have to care. They only need to be aware of their profits.

    Bloomberg has a website. He can post it there and people can read it. People may not go there because they just look at twitter, but hey. That’s life. Twitter’s in a pretty good spot as a result. Congrats to them. Maybe if Bloomberg’s site had naked trannies, sports scores, cat videos, and other stuff people would use it more.

    The tech companies have a pretty good monopoly when it comes to online manipulation. It’s not like anyone is required to use it. I’ve never had a twitter. If I’ve missed anything I’m not aware of it.

    If you go to a privately-owned source for information you’re going to get manipulated. For example, never read an article about a bill to congress. Read the bill. If you want convenience you’re going to trade off on quality. If you’re going to eat a pre made individually wrapped microwavable frozen burrito don’t be surprised when it doesn’t taste like one you made from scratch. The information you obtain is no different.

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