A video of President Joe Biden on the Fourth of July that makes him appear to be struggling to speak is circulating on social media. But the footage has been altered to play at a slower speed. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Making simple manipulations to video can be an extremely effective way to spread disinformation, especially when the end result connects with existing partisan or ideological narratives and ideas. In this case, a “time-stretching algorithm” was used to slow down the speed of the audio without dropping the pitch of Biden’s voice (the way merely changing the playback speed might). As PolitiFact noted in its fact check, the doctored video was about 20% longer than the authentic video of the speech. PolitiFact also underscored the nature of many online comments the video elicited, including those drawing Biden’s mental fitness into question and speculating that his speech was slurred due to a medication. This example is reminiscent of a 2019 video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed to push the baseless claim that she was inebriated.
- “Video of Joe Biden slowed down his speech” (Ciara O'Rourke, PolitiFact).
NLP’s viral rumor rundown is a regular feature in The Sift, its weekly email newsletter for educators, and in Get Smart About News, its weekly email newsletter for the general public. You can subscribe to these newsletters here. Send suggestions, questions or feedback on this rumor or on the viral rumor rundown blog to firstname.lastname@example.org.