Babylon Bee, the conservative Christian site that posts stories from a satirical perspective, has been notified by Facebook that it, well, posts stories from a satirical perspective. Basically, the site is on blast because people are reporting it as fake news — which it is but, well, that’s sort of the point of satire.
According to a screenshot shared by site owner Adam Ford, the offending article was titled “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication.” The idea was, apparently, to go after CNN for some sort of bias, but enough readers were perplexed that internet fact checking gurus Snopes got involved.
Snopes rated the story as false, but they seemed completely aware that the whole thing was tongue-in-cheek. “Although it should have been obvious that the Babylon Bee piece was just a spoof of the ongoing political brouhaha over alleged news media ‘bias’ and ‘fake news,'” Snopes wrote, “some readers missed that aspect of the article and interpreted it literally.”
But Facebook missed that memo. They’re currently cracking down on fake news, and they rely on fact checkers like Snopes to help. Snopes rates something as false and Facebook reaches out to the original offender to let them know that they’re on notice. It’s a well-intentioned process, but clearly, at some point, some wires got crossed and Babylon Bee got caught in the fire.
Facebook apologized for the mistake, saying “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,” but Ford didn’t appear impressed. As he told the Eric Wemple blog over at the Washington Post:
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,” he writes. “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.