Meta Board Backs Decision to Keep Up Altered Biden Video

But oversight panel criticizes company's existing guidelines on manipulated media as 'incoherent'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 5, 2024 3:30 PM CST
Meta Board Backs Decision to Keep Up Altered Biden Video
A Meta sign outside of the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

An oversight board is criticizing Facebook owner Meta's policies regarding manipulated media as "incoherent" and insufficient to address online disinformation in an election year. The quasi-independent board on Monday said its review of an altered video of President Biden that spread on Facebook exposed gaps in the policy, per the AP. It did not, however, say the video should be removed, per the Verge. The board said Meta should expand its policy to focus not only on videos generated with artificial intelligence, but on media regardless of how it was created. The company also should clarify the harms it is trying to prevent and should label images, videos, and audio clips as manipulated instead of removing the posts altogether, the Meta Oversight Board said.

"As it stands, the policy makes little sense," Oversight Board co-chair Michael McConnell said of Meta's policy. The company said it is reviewing the Oversight Board's guidance and will respond publicly within 60 days. The board's current recommendations come after it reviewed an altered clip of President Biden and his adult granddaughter that was misleading but didn't violate the company's specific policies. The original footage showed Biden placing an "I Voted" sticker high on his granddaughter's chest, at her instruction, then kissing her on the cheek. The version that appeared on Facebook was altered to remove the important context, making it seem as if he touched her inappropriately.

The board's ruling on Monday upheld Meta's 2023 decision to leave the seven-second clip up on Facebook, since it didn't violate the company's existing manipulated media policy. Meta's current policy says it will remove videos created using artificial intelligence tools that misrepresent someone's speech. "Since the video in this post was not altered using AI and it shows President Biden doing something he did not do (not something he didn't say), it does not violate the existing policy," the ruling read. The board advised the company to update the policy and label similar videos as manipulated in the future.

(More Facebook stories.)

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