While negative campaigns have been common in American politics, the use of digitally altered images in 2020 worries tech giants.
President Donald Trump’s campaign spread three videos on social networks about his Democratic rival. In one the former vice president appears asleep, in another “hidden” -and alone- in a basement and in a third it is stated: “you will not be safe” in Joe Biden’s United States.
They were all labeled as fake content or manipulated by large social networks and fact-checkers.
While negative campaigns have been common in American politics, the use of digitally altered images by Trump teams and other candidates in 2020 worries the tech giants.
Twitter has cracked down on removing or tagging several of the president’s posts.
Facebook, citing the risk of civil unrest, announced Thursday that would not allow new political ads on his platform in the last week of the November 3 presidential race.
Questions remain as to whether those messages, almost impossible to stop once they go viral, are influencing voters, but a line has already been crossed.
“There is a long tradition of opposing politicians presenting the words or beliefs of their opponents in an edited way, no? That’s part of the policy, “Ethan Porter, assistant professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, told AFP.
“On the other hand, Trump supporters are in part waging a campaign completely separate from reality, in ways that have little or no precedent in American political history,” he remarks.
Biden’s campaign has not yet received the same type of censorship than Trump’s.
Can the will to manipulate political ads and videos so blatantly produce results?
The Real Clear Politics poll average barely changed after the Republican convention, where Trump stepped up his attacks on Biden, who is seven points ahead of the president in polls nationwide.
But the so-called “hinge states”, where the fate of matches is almost never predictable, they remain a mystery.
“Most of the manipulated information has been used by the Trump campaign to try to have more ‘seemingly tangible proof’ of the claims they make, because they don’t have real proof, “says Shannon McGregor, assistant professor at the University of Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media. North Chapel Hill.
A method similar to that used in 2016, but technology has made the manipulations are now easier and more sophisticated.
The Trump campaign accused tech companies of using double standards over Biden’s videos.
“The Liberal Coastal Elites of Silicon Valley they are blatantly one-sided when it comes to defining the manipulated media, “press undersecretary Samantha Zager told AFP.