Twitter on Thursday evening took the rare step of appending a warning label to one of President Donald Trump's tweets after the company determined it violated its policies on manipulated media.

The president tweeted a doctored version of a popular video that went viral in 2019, which showed a black and a white toddler hugging. In the version Trump shared, the video has been edited with ominous music and a fake CNN headline that says, "Terrified toddler runs from racist baby."

"Racist baby probably a Trump voter," the headline then says in a subsequent screen.

The video then cuts to the original clip of the children hugging, and then cuts to the message "America is not the problem. Fake news is."

The video received at least 3.8 million views, and more than 75,000 retweets.

"This tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context," Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough said.

This is only the third time that the company has announced that it would take action against one of the president's tweets. Twitter has previously appended labels to a pair of Trump's tweets that made misleading claims about mail-in ballots, as well as another post that said "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" for violating its terms on violence.

Trump lashed out at Twitter after the company's initial decision to label his tweets regarding the mail-in ballots, signing an executive order that week that sought to punish social media companies by calling on federal regulators to reexamine a key legal shield that gives tech companies broad immunity for the posts and photos people share on their services.

Twitter's decision to label the tweets is the culmination of a series of quiet and incremental processes intended to dismantle a long-standing exception that the social media industry has made for the speech of politicians. Social media companies are under increased pressure to moderate content on their websites - especially from the Oval Office - as concerns mount about misinformation amid the coronavirus pandemic and the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

In March, Twitter also applied a similar manipulated media warning to a video tweeted by White House social media director Dan Scavino, which Trump retweeted.

The manipulated video Trump tweeted Thursday remains unlabeled on Facebook, where it received more than 100,000 likes and more than 26,000 shares. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it planned to take similar action against the video.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the president's previous posts haven't violated the company's policies, drawing ire internally from employees.

Twitter previously labeled Trump's tweet on fraudulent mail-in ballots with a label that says, "Get the facts about mail-in ballots." It redirects users to news articles about Trump's unsubstantiated claim.

For the tweet that called for violence during the protests, Twitter added a gray box that now hides the tweet from public view unless a user clicks on it that reads: "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence." The move also prevented other users from liking the president's tweet or sharing it without appending comment.

"These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen," Trump tweeted late last month, adding, "Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

 

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