Facebook, Twitter take down Trump's toddler video over copyright complaint

John Hendel

Facebook and Twitter have taken down a post from President Donald Trump featuring an altered video of two toddlers, one day after Twitter labeled the same video as having been "manipulated."

The takedowns could inflame tension between Trump and Silicon Valley, weeks after the president issued an executive order aimed at cracking down on social media companies’ online liability protections. Meanwhile, the online companies are facing increasing pressure to vet or take down deceptive or inflammatory posts from Trump — an issue that prompted The North Face to announce earlier Friday that it's pulling its advertising from Facebook.

The video, in which one toddler chases another, features bogus CNN chyrons that say: “Terrified todler [sic] runs from racist baby” and that “racist baby probably a Trump voter.” The post modified earlier reporting from CNN featuring the children.

The entertainment company Jukin Media announced Friday afternoon that the original video footage belongs to one of its video partners and that no one had gotten permission to use it. Jukin said it submitted a takedown request under a 1990s federal copyright law.

“Separately, in no way do we support or condone the manipulated video or the message it conveys,” the entertainment company wrote in its statement.

Facebook and Twitter both acted within hours on the complaint.

“We received a copyright complaint from the rights holder of this video under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and have removed the post,” a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO.

Twitter also confirmed receiving and acting on the complaint. Trump’s tweet is still up but the video is now gone, replaced by a message saying, “This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner.”

A Twitter spokesperson cited its copyright policy and said the company responds to valid complaints from copyright owners or their authorized representatives.

On Thursday, Twitter had slapped Trump tweet's containing the video with a label saying it violated the company's policy on "manipulated media." That was just the latest in a series of jousts between Trump and Twitter, which last month provoked the White House's fury by pasting a fact-checking notice on two tweets from the president. Within days, Trump signed an executive order directing various agencies to find ways to lessen the entire online industry's liability protections.

Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign scoffed at the latest clampdowns.

“The outrageous war on President Trump being waged by the Silicon Valley Mafia continues,” said Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign. “The entire point of the video was to demonstrate how video can easily be manipulated by the media and others, so the labeling of the video as ‘manipulated’ comically confirms the whole premise. The joke is on Twitter.”