How 2020 candidates are grappling with online disinformation

How 2020 candidates are grappling with online disinformation


JUDY WOODRUFF: As the 2020 campaign heats
up, candidates are facing an historic challenge, an unprecedented scale and variety of disinformation
online. John Yang has that story. Hey, folks. JOHN YANG: The latest example? This selectively edited 19-second viral video
of former Vice President Joe Biden. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate:
Our culture, our culture, it’s not imported from some African nation or some Asian nation. It’s our English jurisprudential culture,
our European culture. JOHN YANG: An anonymous Twitter user posted
the video, saying: “Biden proclaims European identity of America. Our culture is not imported from some African
nation.” QUESTION: Could you speak to your work with
women in sexual assault, domestic violence? JOSEPH BIDEN: Yes. JOHN YANG: But missing from the edited video? The context of Biden’s full remarks. In his more than 10-minute answer, Biden called
domestic violence a cultural problem from English common law of the 1300s that allowed
men to abuse their wives. Then, Biden said: JOSEPH BIDEN: Folks, this is about changing
the culture, our culture, our culture. It’s not imported from some African nation
or some Asian nation. It’s our English jurisprudential culture,
our European culture that says it’s all right. JOAN DONOVAN, Harvard Kennedy School: Right
now, we’re in no way prepared for what’s to come. JOHN YANG: The ease of creating this kind
of misinformation is the scariest part, says Joan Donovan of the Harvard Kennedy School. JOAN DONOVAN: It’s difficult to see why a
video like this might be a problem, because it is not using any fancy editing technology. The issue is, is that we have no mechanism
for retraction, nor correction on these platforms. So, anybody who saw that video before there
were any articles written by journalists debunking it may still believe it’s true. JOHN YANG: Biden later responded at a campaign
event in Iowa, partly blaming President Trump. JOSEPH BIDEN: Because that’s how this guy
operates. JOHN YANG: While the president didn’t share
that video of Biden, he’s shared similar edited videos including this one of Biden: JOAN DONOVAN: When someone who is a newsworthy
individual, be it the president or someone from his Cabinet, as well as other political
candidates, shares different pieces of media, and some of these are decontextualized videos
or other kinds of rumors and scandals, we have to be especially careful, as both experts
and journalists, not to take the bait. JOHN YANG: Another example of misinformation? A doctored photo that accused the campaign
of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren of replacing a Black Lives Matter sign with
one reading “African Americans With Warren.” SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): We need comprehensive
immigration reform. JOHN YANG: And in March, the Republican National
Committee posted a video of New York Senator and then-presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand
touting comprehensive immigration reform, with the misleading headline “Senator Gillibrand:
Expand Social Security to all illegal immigrants.” Misinformation comes from both sides. This clip of President Trump telling a story
about a World War II soldier on Veterans Day was taken out of context. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Roddie responded, “Major, you can shoot me, but you will have to kill us all.” That’s something. JOHN YANG: A journalist at the media outlet
Vox clipped that sound bite to: DONALD TRUMP: You can shoot me, but you will
have to kill us all. JOHN YANG: Harvard’s Joan Donovan. JOAN DONOVAN: Unfortunately, right now, the
onus falls on audiences to be careful sharers. Is there another way in which I can look into
and verify this piece of information? And, in most cases, waiting is the — is one
of the best ways to deal with this. JOHN YANG: Valuable advice for 2020. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang.

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