Rumor Review

Brexit video edit changed its meaning

viral rumor regarding Brexit

Partisans in the United States certainly have no monopoly on editing or manipulating videos and other content to make their political opponents look bad. Take this recent example from the United Kingdom.

In an appearance Nov. 5 on Good Morning Britain, Keir Starmer, a member of Parliament and the Labour Party’s shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, did not refuse to answer, or fail to answer, a question about his party’s position on Brexit — the process by which the nation will leave the European Union (“Britain” + “exit” =  “Brexit”). It was approved by British voters in 2016.

Just kidding?

The official Facebook page for the Conservative Party, which currently holds power, posted an edited version of the interview that made Starmer appear to be stumped by a question from Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan. The full footage of the interview, available on the program’s YouTube channel, shows that Starmer promptly answered Morgan’s question.

The day after the Conservative Party posted its video on Facebook, the party’s chairman, James Cleverly, in three separate interviews described the doctored video as “humorous,” “light-hearted” and “satirical.”

For discussion in the classroom:

  • Should Facebook flag this post for its fact-checking partners?
  • Should it demote it in the platform’s algorithm to stop it from spreading widely?
  • Should political parties be held to the same community standards on social media as other users?
  • Is it important for people to be able to see examples of a political figure or party engaging in misleading spin or fabrications?
  • Do you think tactics like this ultimately help or hurt the politicians and political parties that use them?