Video Of Pelosi Brings Renewed Attention To ‘Cheapfakes’

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, file photo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, tears her copy of President Donald Trump's State of the Union address after he delivered it to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The issue of misleading political messages on social media arose again last week, when President Trump tweeted out an edited video showing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi repeatedly tearing up his State of the Union speech as he honored audience members and showed a military family reuniting.

Pelosi did tear the pages of her copy of the speech — but only after it was finished, and not throughout the address as the video depicts.

Pelosi’s office asked Twitter and Facebook to take down the video, which both sites have declined to do.

Researchers worry the video’s “selective editing” could mislead people if social media companies don’t step in and properly label or regulate similar videos. And with the proliferation of smartphones equipped with easy editing tools, the altered videos are simple to make and could multiply as the election approaches.


Political campaign ads and candidate messages showing opponents in a negative light have long been a staple of American politics. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams attacked each other in newspaper ads. John F. Kennedy’s campaign debuted an ad showing different videos edited together of Richard Nixon sweating and looking weak.

So, to some extent, the video of Pelosi, which appears to be created by a group affiliated with conservative organization Turning Point USA, is not novel. What’s different now, said Clifford Lampe, a professor of information at the University of Michigan, is how widely such content can spread in a matter of minutes.

“The difference now is that the campaigns themselves, the president of U.S. himself, is able to disseminate these pieces of media to the public,” he said. “They no longer have to collaborate with media outlets.”

The Pelosi team has pushed back against doctored online content in the past. A video released last year was slowed down to make it seem the speaker was slurring her words.


Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been emphasizing their efforts to cut down on disinformation on their sites leading up to the election, hoping to avoid some of the backlash generated by rampant misinformation on social media during the 2016 election.

But the video of Pelosi does not violate existing policies, both Twitter and Facebook said. Facebook has rules that prohibit so-called “deepfake” videos, which the company says are both misleading and use artificial intelligence technology to make it seem like someone authentically “said words that they did not actually say.”

Researchers say the Pelosi video is an example of a “cheapfake” video, one that has been altered but not with sophisticated AI like in a deepfake. Cheapfakes are much easier to create and are more prevalent than deepfakes, which have yet to really take off, said Samuel Woolley, director of propoganda research at the Center for Media Engagement at University of Texas.

That editing is “deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people,” Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted on Friday. He condemned Facebook and Twitter for allowing the video to stay up on the social media sites.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone replied to Hammill on Twitter saying, “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?” In an interview Sunday, Stone confirmed that the video didn’t violate the company’s policy. In order to be taken down, the video would have had to use more advanced technology and possibly try to show Pelosi saying words she didn’t say.

Twitter did not remove the video either, and pointed toward a blog post from early February that says the company plans to start labeling tweets that contain “synthetic and manipulated media.” Labeling will begin on March 5.


Not much. Social media companies are broadly able to police the content on their own sites as they choose. A law, section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, shields tech platforms from most lawsuits based on the content posted on their sites, leaving responsibility largely in the companies’ own hands.

Most platforms now ban overtly violent videos and videos that could cause real-world harm, though of course much of that is up to internal company interpretation. Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube have received a significant amount of criticism in recent years about live-streamed and offensive videos that have appeared on the sites. The companies sometimes bend to public pressure and remove videos, but often point to people’s rights to freedom of expression in leaving videos up.


Misinformation on social media, especially surrounding elections, is a varied and ever-changing conversation. Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor at Syracuse University, called for legislation to better regulate social media in cases of political propaganda. It gets tricky though, she admits, because the “very people who will be regulating them are the same ones using them to get elected.”

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  1. Pelosi and Dems know all about doctored like they doctored the Kenyan BORN Muslim squatter in the White house Hawaiian birth certificate they didn’t need to do doctor his Harvard as he was just another UNQUALIFIED affirmative action hiree.

      • Lol!!! I think a good idea would be for him to have his comments read by one of the nurses before he posts, so they can help him filter out those comments strongly influenced by his schizophrenia.

    • You are an ignorant deranged individual. There was notice a birth of a son to Obama’s mother in a Honolulu paper published at the time of his birth. Unless the conspiracy to make Obama American born goes back that far it’s additional proof that he was born in Hawaii. In many cities all births and death are listed.
      Right wing wacko’s carried on about Obama attending Rev Wright’s church, which isn’t something Moslems do.
      Shut off Faux News and get in touch with reality if it’s not too late.

      • Then how about you explain why publicity materials by Obama’s publisher, in 1991 and again as late as 2007, gave his birthplace as Kenya? Such materials are looked over by the subject at some point during the publication process. So at the very least, Obama considered it advantageous to claim (maybe truly, maybe not) that he was born in Kenya – at least until a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton brought this to light, at which point it became a liability to him (and, very conveniently, gets hung around the necks of Republicans, even though it was the Democrats who brought it up first).

          • How about you first get off the illegal drugs you’re taking, and explain why if it was factual enough for Obama to leave it in place for 16 years at least, it’s off limits for anyone to bring it up? Why, you wouldn’t want to say that your god-king-messiah-lightworker was (gasp!) a liar, would you?

        • Ferd! You choose words carefully not to be caught and also not to have to back off..!! “Bring it up” we aren’t talking about bringing it up. We are talking about a lunatic constantly claiming in the comment section that Obama was born in Kenya. That is delusion and typical of the schizophrenic conspiracy theorist he is. Soros and Kenyan voices in his head all the time. You would like to have a conversation about Obama and the publicity material? Fair enough, but the facts are facts and don’t muddy the water.

  2. I actually don’t think the reediting of that clip is false at all. It is about the story and message. Fact is when pelosi ripped up that speech she is spitting at our solders and heros and military family reuniting. Doing it after the speech doesn’t change the story. Its a very honest and truthful story.

    I know the AP is mad but thats life. You guys use impeachment to bring us down and we will use facebook and whatever else we want.

    • It is false because she didn’t rip up the speech when the video depicts she has. It’s fake news no matter how you twist it. And no, it wasn’t spitting at soldiers and heros. She respects them as much as trump does.

      • Wrong its bthe truth . Its in essence what she did. And thats the point of the video.

        You totally missed my point. LKets focus on the story not the detailed facts of when she ripped it. Story is trump’s speech was about our troops and pride. She ripped that up.

        If she respected them she would not have tore it up

        • You don’t get to decide what to focus on. The fact is a video was edited to make it look like she tore up a copy of the speech during the speech. That is a lie and fake news. That’s the focus regardless of whatever message they intended to convey.

          • So by that logic, whenever an ad (political or otherwise) shows words superimposed on an image, then that’s “fake news,” because those words weren’t actually floating in the air there at the time. Is that the new standard, according to you?

          • AH: are you seriously comparing the two? The two are inherently different. Words being super imposed on an image is self evident that the picture is an edit job, although even that can at times be classified as fake news. But a video to completely invent a scenario that never happened is the epitome of fake news. Is pretending to be stupid in order to defend your Trump at all cost the new moral standard for you?

          • And do you think that anyone watching the video thinks that Pelosi ripped up the same papers again and again, with exactly the same motions? It becomes quite obvious to anyone with half a brain that it’s showing the same scene over and over again. Come on, use the common sense that G-d gave you.

        • If it’s the same thing why was it edited? Because you and I both know the outrage would be much stronger of it happened during the speech. What she did was despicable, but the video is low.

          • No, it was edited to make it clear that the speech that she ripped up contained many different details, all of which she damned as “lies” (even the parts that are indubitably true).

          • AH: the only thing it clarifies is the lie it perpetrates. If her ripping the speech at the end means that she’s saying everything contained in it was a lie (it doesn’t mean that at all), then doctoring the video means truth doesn’t exist. It’s breathtaking to see how far some people will go to defend Trump at all cost. Editing the video was as wrong as Pelosi was for ripping up the speech.

          • She herself said that the whole thing was lies. So it is quite correct to show the same scene over and over again, in connection with each of the things that she claims are lies. Anyone with half a brain can realize immediately that a person doesn’t rip up the same papers again and again, with exactly the same motions.

  3. So let me understand the Democrats can fake charges against our president live for the entire US and the world for months. But you can’t post an edited 60 second clip of what Pelosi actually did. Anyone can you please explain

  4. Tehran Nancy threw her #PelosiTantrum because she knew the impeachment sham failed and that there is no democrat candidate who can beat Trump. Vote the democrats out in November.

    • wait till your grandmother or zaide needs medicines and medicare is cut. Wait till shuls are attscked and police dept. lack funds to provide assistance. Wait till the good boy march with swastikas and cemetery are vandalized. Trump is a disaster to be fulfilled

      • You are scum, it’s the democrats who want to ban religious freedom and support the anti Israel Jew haters who attack Jews on campuses nationwide and they support those who wish to destroy Israel and you support them scum.

  5. I watched on live tv (unedited), Nancy Pelosi tearing up various sections of Trump’s State of the Union Address, not once, but FOUR separate times. I noticed that the third and fourth time that she tore the speech up, she did it with even more viciousness and vindictiveness, than the first and second times. Her body language, judging by the expression on her gezichtel told it all. It was tantamount to a small child, having a temper tantrum. Even before Ms. Pelosi tore the speech up, she was mumbling and shaking her head in a negative manner. When one of her fellow Democratic Representatives, screamed something out at Trump (after Trump mentioned the Second Amendment), she did very little to admonish her colleague. Oy gevalt!

  6. You are upset that the REPUBLICANS were not impartial??? But the Democratic Senators, including the 6 Democratic Senators who were running to become the Democratic nominee to be President, THEY were impartial????


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