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Twitter marks Justin Trudeau’s retweet of video attacking Erin O’Toole as ‘Manipulated media’


Twitter marks Justin Trudeau’s retweet of video attacking Erin O’Toole as ‘Manipulated media’

OTTAWA—A social media post shared by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was marked as “manipulated media” by Twitter late Sunday.

Trudeau retweeted a video of Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s answer in a 2020 interview on the subject of privatized health care.

In the video clip, O’Toole gives an emphatic ‘yes’ to the question of whether he’d allow provinces to experiment with providing private and not-for-profit services inside of universal coverage.

He then goes on to talk about how private sector involvement can drive innovation.

The clip was first posted by Liberal candidate and deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland and circulated by the Liberals throughout the day, including from Trudeau’s account.

Trudeau also drew it into his stump speech at an event in New Brunswick, saying O’Toole was in favour of a private health-care system for Canada.

But almost immediately after the video was posted online early Sunday morning, the Conservatives pointed out the clip was edited, and crucially left out O’Toole’s statement that universal coverage remains paramount.

In addition to the 35-second clip, the Liberals had also linked to O’Toole’s entire answer, and they pointed to that fact late Sunday in their response to Twitter’s decision.

“The highlights are an accurate reflection of Mr. O’Toole’s statement in its entirety,” the Liberal campaign said in a statement.

“We disagree with the assessment and are seeking an explanation from Twitter.”

Ahead of the U.S. presidential election last year, Twitter debuted a policy of marking posts if they determined they were misleading.

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It was part of an effort to combat deliberate misinformation circulating online.

Their policy says people must be able to find reliable information on Twitter, and that means understanding whether content is real or fabricated.

“Therefore, we may label Tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated,” the policy reads.

Freeland originally tweeted the clip twice, once slamming the Conservative leader in English and a second time in French, though the video is the same in both.

Only the French tweet has been tagged by Twitter as manipulated.

“It’s disappointing to see the Liberals resort to American-style divisive politics,” Mathew Clancy, media relations manager for the Conservative campaign said.

“While Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are focused on spreading misinformation — Erin O’Toole is focused on Canada’s Recovery Plan and securing the future.”

How the tweet was drawn to the attention of Twitter was unclear. Any user can report a tweet for potentially misleading content.

Earlier in the election, the Conservatives had one of their own posts outright removed from Twitter after the web company received a complaint it violated copyright laws.

The post contained a spoof video using a scene from the film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, with a cut-out of Trudeau’s face superimposed on a character who throws a tantrum for not getting what she wants.

Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieLevitz

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