Culture

Facebook's Fake Fact-Checkers Bust The Babylon Bee

The Christian satire site is warned by the social media giant against propagating "fake news."

Thomas Gallatin · Mar. 5, 2018

One of our favorite satire sites, The Babylon Bee, recently ran a humorous story entitled “CNN purchases industrial-sized washing machine to spin news before publication.” Hours later, Adam Ford, the Bee’s founder, received a notice from Facebook warning that his story had been flagged as false content by its “independent fact-checker” Snopes. Furthermore, the social media giant threatened, “Repeat offenders will see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertise removed.”

To say the least, Ford was surprised — not over being “fact-checked,” as this was not the first time that Snopes has “fact-checked” The Babylon Bee, but rather by the action taken by Facebook. Ford stated, “This is the first time Facebook has used that to threaten us with reduced reach and demonetization.” He added, “Also it seems that anyone who clicked on the article got a notice that it was ‘disputed.’”

Hours later, after suffering a fully deserved barrage of blowback and mockery, Facebook later admitted its action was a mistake: “There’s a difference between false news and satire. This was a mistake and should not have been rated false in our system. It’s since been corrected and won’t count against the domain in any way.”

Like Google’s YouTube, Facebook has sought to censor and limit what it calls “fake news” and has increased its efforts since Donald Trump’s election. As part of its anti-fake news efforts, Facebook has teamed up with several leftist “fact-checking” groups. One of these organizations, PolitiFact, explained its work with Facebook, stating, “Our partnership with Facebook is part of a push by the social media company to clean up its news feed and become a more trustworthy platform.” PolitiFact's Aaron Sharackman added, “Facebook introduced a new tool after the 2016 campaign that allows users to mark a post as a ‘false news story,’ and if enough do, the post is sent to fact-checkers like PolitiFact, Snopes and Factcheck.org.”

Most notably, YouTube is employing the “services” of the leftwing SPLC to monitor its content to “monitor content.”

In its rush to censor its platform, YouTube is hiring 10,000 tech totalitarians or as they call them, “moderators,” to “flag content.” According to YouTube, “As we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams in 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals.” In other words, guilty until proven innocent.

Following his recent experience with Facebook, Ford opined, “There is no question in my mind that Snopes and Facebook are biased against conservative-leaning content. It’s clear that this is the case. There are always going to be some people who misinterpret satire, but we were intentional from the get-go about not blurring the line between satire and misinformation.” He then astutely observed, “When this exact thing happens to smaller sites, or to people who are unable to make sufficient noise about it when it happens, what can they do? The answer is nothing. They’re out of luck.”

Undeterred, on Friday the Bee published a satirical follow-up entitled “Facebook sends warm reminder to publishers that it is in complete control of their livelihood,” although this may be an instance of reality reflecting satire. Finally, a parting question: Who’s fact-checking the “fact-checkers”?

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