Social media giant Facebook recently flagged the satire site Babylon Bee for allegedly proliferating fake news.
The article in question, again a work of satire, alleged that CNN had purchased massive washing machines meant to spin news before publication. Babylon Bee’s site owner shared a notification he received from Facebook informing him of the violation he had committed by sharing such a headline.
Part of the notification indicates that said article contained disputed information that couldn’t be verified. Facebook further warned Babylon Bee that repeat of the offense in the future will see its distribution limited and the ability to monetize and advertise removed as well. The flagging was done by an independent checker, Snopes.com, which seemed to miss the satire in the article.
The Babylon Bee is a renowned Christian satire website. It site depicts itself as a trusted source of Christian satire news, and just about everyone who reads articles on the site understand what it’s all about. Snopes.com apparently fact-checked Babylon Bee’s news article, and concluded that the whole story was fake and never bothered about the satire in it.
The point of the fact-checking was that CNN doesn’t use household appliances to fabricate or prepare its daily news and as such, the story was flagged as fake news. Snopes.com felt the need to set the record straight and undo any damage that the headline might have caused.
Part of the story indicated that CNN owned large custom-made devices that allow its news reporters to load the facts of a given occurrence or issue, turn on a specific dial and the device will provide an entirely unrecognizable version of the story suitable for publication within five minutes.
Snopes.com usually conducts intensive investigations into questionably accurate or downright false news stories. It concerns itself with hard news such as political news, public health, and so on. According to Snopes.com, the news posted by Babylon Bee contained false statements that could not be verified.
Although the story was meant to portray the image of a biased media that has been accused of churning out biased news, Snopes and most of the readers missed the point and interpreted the story literally. However, the site goes ahead to acknowledge Babylon Bee as the trusted source for all Christian news satire. The site has also been responsible for a number of other news satires that have been misinterpreted for real news articles.
Babylon Bee owner Adam Ford has said that he believes this must have been more than an innocent mistake on Facebook’s part. He says that he didn’t see anyone sharing the story as though it was meant to be real.
He further stated that the story could be completely nonsensical even if someone tried to interpret it literally. This was the first time that Facebook was threatening Babylon Bee with demonetization and reduced reach.
Facebook came forward on Friday and admitted that it had mistakenly flagged the article as fake news. It acknowledged that the blatant satirical article ought not to have been flagged as fake news. In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Facebook admits that there is a significant difference between false news and satire.
Snopes defended its action claiming that its primary goal is to empower the over 1 billion Facebook users to better control and enhance their online experience and they believe that one of the most effective ways of achieving this goal is by increasing the flow and visibility of accurate information.
Facebook has enabled its users to report news stories that seem bogus, and if any particular piece is reported many times, the news article is sent to one of the fact-checking organizations that Facebook has partnered with. It’s the work of the organization to evaluate the authenticity of the story and recommend appropriate action.
Clearly, the world’s most popular social media site might need to re-evaluate its own sources.
~ 1776 Christian