Facebook mistakenly threatened Christian satire site The Babylon Bee with demonetization and reduced viewership after the left-leaning Snopes website “fact checked” one of its articles Thursday.
Snopes fact checked the Bee article titled “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication,” and found that it was false. Facebook then used the fact check to warn Babylon Bee Founder and editor Adam Ford that publishing more “disputed info” would result in demonetization and reduced viewership.
Snopes acknowledged that the Bee’s article was satire, but claimed the fact check was justified because “some readers missed that aspect of the article and interpreted it literally.” We understand Liberal America is a few donuts short of a dozen, but wouldn’t you think Snopes would get it? However, Snopes has a long history of dubiousfact checks and has targeted the Bee’s satire 13 times and The Onion’s satire 17 times.
Facebook’s ultimate apology and statement does not undo what happened to the Bee, nor does it erase the very serious implications of the social network’s power over information. In April, the social network announced it would let troll mobs decide what is and what isn’t fake news. A few months later, Facebook announced it would block ads from users it thinks are sharing “fake news.”
What happened to the Bee is just one example of the way the social network can arbitrarily decide what information they will bury and what they will lend a platform too. Similar arbitrary standards got them in trouble when former employees revealed that they routinely suppressed conservative news on purpose.
Not sure which is more worrisome, that Facebook would try to block free speech, or that they would rely on Snopes to determine so-called “fake news”.
Note: This is not a satire.