The 2020 election is set to face some very 2016 challenges when it comes to the spread of misinformation, NBC News reports.
The emergence of distorted videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, edited to make her appear to have trouble speaking, has provided a stark reminder that technology often remains an enemy of truth in politics, just as it was four years ago. The core issues of social media virality, confirmation bias and the fringe internet-to-conservative media pipeline have endured from 2016 and do not even need particularly sophisticated techniques to do real mischief.
The videos also offer a warning that concerns about election interference from foreign countries should not overshadow the ability of domestic actors to influence what people see, hear and think. President Donald Trump himself distributed one of the carefully edited videos on Twitter on Friday morning, and though he denied knowing that they were altered, he continued pushing their underlying theme that Pelosi is somehow impaired.
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The Pelosi videos and their narratives were not the product of advanced technology, nor did they take a different route to prominence than previous misinformation efforts. Altering the Pelosi videos required only basic video editing software that is now included on most computers and can also be done in web browsers.