Twitter, Facebook remove 'racist baby' video posted by Trump

Brandy Zadrozny and Dennis Romero and Shannon Pettypiece

Facebook and Twitter both removed a video on Friday of a “racist baby” posted to President Trump’s social media accounts the previous day, in response to a copyright claim from one of the children’s parents.

Twitter labeled the video tweeted by President Donald Trump on Thursday night as “manipulated media” because it attributes to news media a nonexistent story on race.

A Facebook spokesperson told NBC News in a statement, "We received a copyright complaint from the rights holder of this video under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and have removed the post.”

A Twitter spokesperson provided a similar statement: “Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives.”

The video had been viewed over 20 million times on Twitter and over 4 million times on Facebook by the time it was removed from each platform.

This isn’t the first time a viral tweet of a video from one of the president’s mememakers, a group of unofficial creators who produce pro-Trump videos and images, has been removed after a copyright complaint.

In June, Twitter removed a four-minute video tribute to George Floyd posted by the Trump campaign after one of the images owner’s complained. And in October, Twitter removed a meme targeting Joe Biden and his son Hunter after Warner Media Group complained about its use of the Nickelback song “Photograph.”

The video removed Friday depicts a fake CNN headline that states, "TERRIFIED TODDLER RUNS FROM RACIST BABY," as a Black toddler runs ahead of a white toddler in the same direction and ominous music plays.

The video then displays the words, "WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED," and shows the original clip of two children running toward each other on a sidewalk before embracing as Harry Connick Jr.'s version of the Carpenter's "Close to You" plays.

"AMERICA IS NOT THE PROBLEM," the video proclaims. "FAKE NEWS IS."

"IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING," it says. "ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FAKE NEWS DUMPSTER FIRES."

The video of the toddlers went viral on social media last year. On CNN it was presented as what it was — a look at a friendship between two toddlers, identified as Maxwell and Finnegan.

"With all the racism and hate going on I just think it's a really beautiful video," Maxwell's father, Michael Cisneros, said in a video CNN posted online and labeled as being from WPIX television in New York City.

The parents of both toddlers have retained counsel who are “investigating legal recourse,” according to a statement from the firms Ven Johnson Law and Neumann Law Group.

CNN responded Thursday night to Trump's post, saying on Twitter, "CNN did cover this story — exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We'll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better."

The video tweeted by Trump appears to be watermarked Carpe Donktum, a Trump-supporting creator who has made other manipulated content. It comes as Trump faces criticism over his response to weeks of protests over the in-custody death of George Floyd.

Asked about the manipulated media label, a Twitter spokesperson said by email, "This Tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context."

The platform's page on manipulated content reads, "You should be able to find reliable information on Twitter. That means understanding whether the content you see is real or fabricated and having the ability to find more context about what you see on Twitter."

White House spokesman Judd Deere, said, "If Twitter is not careful, it’s going to have to label itself a ‘manipulator.'"

This was the first time Twitter had labeled one of Trump's tweets as containing manipulated media.

In May, Twitter placed fact-check labels on a pair of tweets from Trump suggesting mail-in ballots breed voter fraud. Days later a tweet by Trump that said, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts," was placed behind a warning label that said it violated its rules against glorifying violence.