Facebook says its decision to threaten to censor a Christian satire site was a mistake, but the implications of the social media platform’s actions are still prevalent.
Christian satire site The Babylon Bee was flagged on Friday as fake news after Snopes “fact checked” one of its satirical articles, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
The article was titled “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication.”
“This is obviously a joke and is clearly marked satire and is published on a site entirely devoted to satire,” The Federalist pointed out.
Despite the fact that the content of the article was clearly a witticism, Snopes wanted to make sure readers could not mistake the information as truth.
After Snopes found the information in the article to be fake, Adam Ford, the editor of The Babylon Bee, received a disconcerting, threatening message from Facebook.
“A page you admin (The Babylon Bee) recently posted the link (CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication) that contains info disputed by (Snopes.com), an independent fact checker,” the notification read. “Repeat offenders will see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertised removed.”
“Snopes has ‘fact-checked’ several of our articles before,” Ford told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “But this is the first time Facebook has used that to threaten us with reduced reach and demonetization.”
Along with the threat to de-monetize and reduce the reach of some of The Babylon Bee’s posts, Facebook also warned users who clicked on “the obviously satirical post that it is, in fact, satire,” The Federalist reported.
“Before you share this content, you might want to know that there is additional reporting on this from Snopes.com,” the warning said.
Facebook has since apologized and claimed the warning was a mistake, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“There’s a difference between false news and satire,” Facebook said in a statement. “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.”
The Federalist added, “In other words, Facebook is saying: Lol, sorry we threatened y’all with de-monetization. We like, totally didn’t mean it. But you can be sure that when we do mean to sandbag you, IT WILL BE SWIFT AND SEVERE.”
This is just one instance where the social networking giant has tried to censor what shows up in newsfeeds. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media” will be in users’ newsfeeds “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people,” based on Facebook’s standards.
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