“The deceptive Biden G7 video was quickly debunked, but it kept going viral anyway”

David Ingram for NBC News:

Misleading videos and false claims that President Joe Biden wandered off aimlessly from the G7 conference last week continued to go viral despite debunkings and fact-checks that tried to correct the record. 

Google recommended false versions of the story as “top stories.” Deceptive video clips continued to accumulate millions of views on X. Copies of the videos were replayed on TikTok and YouTube with little context. Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, applied fact-checking labels to some posts but not to all. 

The persistent nature of the misleading videos illustrates how major tech platforms and partisan media are playing off each other in the 2024 election cycle, keeping viral stories in people’s feeds after they’ve been proven to be misleading or even false. 

In a familiar playbook, hyperpartisan outlets will continually push a piece of misleading information on their platforms and on social media, causing motivated followers who are primed to believe the outlets to amplify it further. That inundates tech platforms, which are unwilling or unable to correct the record quickly enough. The bad information then continues to outpace efforts to fact-check it. …

Laura Edelson, an assistant professor of computer sciences at Northeastern University, said that the people behind the misleading claims are benefiting from tech companies’ cost-cutting. In the past two years, companies such as Google, Meta and X laid off large numbers of employees who worked on trust and safety teams, the core of the companies’ efforts to limit the spread of misinformation. “They eliminated the staffers who were enforcing those policies,” she said. 

That puts the platforms in a relatively defenseless position against a partisan media outlet that decides to push a misleading claim, Edelson said. In this case, the conservative outlets were savvy about the topic, continuing to hammer the narrative that Biden is too old to be president. 

“The reason this can be so successful is that it’s not trying to create a new narrative. It’s trying to reinforce a narrative that both people in the campaign and disinformation spreaders have been talking about for years,” she said. Biden is 81, and former President Donald Trump is 78. 

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