When the Content Police Came for the Babylon Bee

Jun 9, 2018 by

by Adam Ford, The American Conservative

The satirical site’s creator opens up on how Facebook tried to destroy his livelihood.

[…]  Facebook has always been the main source of traffic to my websites. When I started out, I was just excited that so many people were reading my stuff—I wasn’t worried about the implications of it all. The first hint I got that something troubling was afoot was in November 2015, the first time Facebook pulled something I made off of their platform. I’m just a Bible-believing Christian saying normal Christian things, and this comic I posted was no different. It merely explained, in four panels, that it is not “homophobia” to say “I believe homosexuality is sinful because the Bible says it is.” There was clearly nothing malevolent about the image. It was illustrating a view held by millions in this country. But Facebook felt otherwise. They removed my comic, logged me off of their service on all of my devices, and informed me that in order to get back into my account, I’d have to read and agree to their “community standards.”

What choice did I have? This was less than a year after I had quit my job of nine years, with three small children at home, to create content full-time. We were struggling to get by. The majority of my traffic came through Facebook. And they said “agree or goodbye.”

Four months later, I launched The Babylon Bee, a Christian-themed satirical news site. It blew up almost overnight, mostly due to its content going viral on Facebook. It became something of a Christian cultural phenomenon and quickly replaced comics as my full-time job. Yet our heavy reliance on Facebook always troubled me—and then on March 1 of this year, on the two-year anniversary of the Bee’s launch, Facebook struck again. This time, its left-leaning “fact checker” friend, Snopes, decided to judge an absurd, over-the-top, nonsensical, satirical story of ours about CNN putting news in a washing machine to “spin” it before publication as FAKE NEWS. Facebook took that big red judgment and used it to redirect our readers to Snopes’ page saying that we were intentionally spreading false information. Think of it! The story was so obviously satire—you can’t put news in a dang washing machine!—but the Snopes police arrested us, and the Facebook judge informed me that if it happened again our very popular page would be snuffed out and demonetized. I thank God that when I tweeted out a screen shot of their threats, it went viral and people started yelling about it. Though Facebook would not reply to me earlier, once reporters started knocking on their door, they admitted their error and promised not to throttle our page’s reach.

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