All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.

Twitter labeled a tweet by White House director of social media Dan Scavino as “manipulated media” today. The original, unaltered video shows Harry Belafonte asleep in an interview with a local TV station. The video shared by Scavino replaces Belafonte’s face with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The Scavino video has been seen more than 1 million times since being shared roughly one day ago on Twitter. CBS Sacramento anchor John Dabkovich tweeted that he knew the video was a fake six hours ago.

At the time this story was published at 1 pm PT Monday, Twitter hadn’t removed the video, and Scavino had not deleted the post sharing the doctored video. Ultimately, the video was removed in response to a report by the copyright owner.

Twitter introduced its synthetic and manipulated media policy in February, and it considers whether shared content is manipulated with editing to be deceptive or capable of causing serious harm. Whether a video is labeled or removed entirely is decided on a case-by-case basis. Accounts associated with repeat offenses of the synthetic and manipulated media policy can be permanently suspended, according to the policy.

Scavino was the first known Twitter user to have a tweet labeled as manipulated media for sharing an altered video in March, which Trump retweeted, that falsely depicts Biden endorsing Trump. A former Trump golf caddie and longtime aide to President Trump, Scavino was appointed to the position of White House social media director earlier this year and last week spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Earlier today, Twitter also labeled a video shared by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) as manipulated media for sharing a video interview related to police funding, which Scalise eventually deleted, according to CNN. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has not said he’s in favor of defunding the police.

Concern over manipulated media and disinformation is high as U.S. citizens prepare to vote to elect the next president of the United States on November 3.

VentureBeat pinged the White House for comment on whether the White House uses any tools to detect deepfake videos and whether Scavino will take down the video.

Updated 12:10 pm PT Sept. 1 to state that the doctored video was taken down due to a report by the copyright owner.


VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:
  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more
Become a member