Unsurprisingly, it turns out parents aren’t too keen on their toddlers being co-opted for presidential propaganda.
On Friday, Facebook and Twitter removed a doctored video recently posted by U.S. President Donald Trump after the original video’s rights owners lodged a copyright complaint, according to a CNN report. The now-deleted video featured a clip that went viral last year of two toddlers, one black and one white, running to embrace each other in a truly wholesome moment.
As part of a misleading edit, the video makes it appear as if the black child was running away from the white child accompanied by a fake CNN chyron that reads “Terrified todler [sic] runs from racist baby.” The manipulated footage is followed by the original, unedited clip along with a warning denouncing “fake news” as the nation’s enemy. It ends with a credit to @CarpeDonktum, a creator who regularly makes memes and parody videos in support of the president.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2020
In case it wasn’t glaringly obvious already, the video was an attempt at a dunk on CNN, implying that the outlet put a negative spin on the story at the time (it didn’t). President Trump has repeatedly derided CNN as fake news along with countless other outlets that honestly report on his outlandish White House tenure.
Though, please don’t ask me how using manipulated media was supposed to make a point about supposedly deceitful news coverage. Either the irony genuinely went over Trump’s head or, as most of us already suspected, he simply does not give a care about what he posts these days.
Critics also noted that Trump originally posted the clip on the eve of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally commemorated holiday of when slavery ended in the U.S. So you can add a healthy dose of race-baiting to this already raging rubbish fire.
Before it was taken down, the video had more than 4 million views on Facebook and more than 20 million views on Twitter, per CNN. On Thursday, Twitter slapped it with a “manipulated media” warning as part of the platform’s increasing crackdown on the president’s unsubstantiated and potentially dangerous claims online. The platform has previously applied this warning to several deepfake videos.
Jukin Media, a firm that represents the parents who own the video, has since issued a DMCA take-down notice to both Facebook and Twitter over the manipulated footage. In a statement posted to Twitter, the company said, “Neither the video owner nor Jukin Media gave the President permission to post the video, and after our review, we believe that his unauthorized usage of the content is a clear example of copyright infringement without valid fair use or other defense.”
“Separately, in no way do we support or condone the manipulated video or the message it conveys,” the statement continues.
In a press briefing on Friday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany implied that the president shared the fake video as a joke.
“I think the President was making a satirical point that was quite funny if you go and actually watch the video,” she said, adding that he was specifically calling out CNN and how the outlet “has regularly taken him out of context.”
Now, make of that explanation what you will, but hear me out: maybe instead of posting dank memes on Twitter, the leader of the free world could just, I don’t know, log off?