I’ve posted several times on my view that the Big Tech companies pose a real and present danger to American political life. Diarist Davenj1 has a piece that I put as featured earlier today that sort of sets the basis. The bottom line is that we have a small number of private companies that are not only crushing competition (albeit very smartly, they are employing the poker strategy of “buying the pot” to eliminate market entrants and they are giving enough free stuff to consumers that no one complains) but they are using their monopoly position to constrain political speech with which they disagree. And they are doing so while working under a legal get-out-of-jail free card given to them by a Congress that was, like with the no-tax-on-internet-purchases law, trying to help out a nascent industry.
The monopoly status of Facebook made it particularly vulnerable to legislative action when its preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, did not get elected by acclamation and Facebook found itself at the center of the laughable allegations that the election was swayed not only by the Russians but by fake news stories not produced by CNN or the New York Times or Washington Post circulating on that medium. To remove this vulnerability, Facebook engaged the services of contract “fact checkers.” These contractors were given the writ to declare content to be “fake” or “false” and then Facebook applied the financial screws by restricting availability of that publisher’s content until the offending item was changed or removed.
Obviously, this is has the potential for all sorts of abuses. The current fact checker for Facebook, PolitiFact, has fact checked statements by politicians and proclaimed them to be false (see this silliness in which PolitiFact proclaimed Ted Cruz’s opinion that the Iran nuclear deal could faciliate Iran getting a bomb to be false even though it was a) an opinion and b) objectively true) and seems to fly top cover for Democrats like AOC. But the worst player in that arena, a player that would even make Media Matters look rational, is Snopes.com. Snopes started out exposing intranet hoaxes and urban legends. Then it branched out into protecting Democrats from criticism by labeling any criticism of them false. Lately it has been making more of an ass of itself than usual by fact checking the Christian and right-leaning satire site, Babylon Bee. These are the Babylon Bee stories Snopes has fact checked:
On the one hand, this is humorous and plays into a well deserved stereotype of the left. On the other, after eight pages of fact checks of the Babylon Bee, it is equally obvious that something else is at work that can’t be explained by abject stupidity. The game is to build a case that that Babylon Bee’s satire is so misleading–and so injurious to Democrats–that it should be banned from Facebook. In fact, because of Snopes, Facebook has actually warned Babylon Bee that it could be demonetized:
Really, Facebook?? pic.twitter.com/HEtBc7C0Gz
— Adam Ford (@Adam4d) March 2, 2018
Things really got serious last week with this:
And here is the Bee article they say they're "fact-checking": https://t.co/btfUocCdi5
— Adam Ford (@Adam4d) July 25, 2019
This lampooned Georgia state representative Erica Thomas’s now thoroughly debunked claim that a Cuban immigrant told her to “go back to her country.” In this one, Snopes let the mask slip.
While this real-world incident stirred up a good amount of online anger, it wasn’t quite outrageous enough for the entertainment website Babylon Bee,” Snopes said. “In an apparent attempt to maximize the online indignation, this website published a fictionalized version of the story, changing the location to Chick-fil-A, a fast-food restaurant known for its CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage.”
Snopes called the satirical article, which obviously pokes fun at a real life event, a fictionalized version of the story. “The Babylon Bee has tried to fool readers with its brand of satire in the past,” it said.
Demonstrating a lack of objectivity, the article continued, calling the Babylon Bee a “ruse,” which literally means “an action intended to deceive someone.”
It’s editor, Adam Ford, was not amused in the least, read his response.
To be clear, this is a serious threat. RedState gets over a third of its pageviews from Facebook. I can only imagine that Babylon Bee is much more dependent. If it gets deplatformed, as is Snopes’s obvious objective, it would be out of business. It is also clear that other leftwing outlets are picking up the charge that Babylon Bee is deliberate deception and not satire. For instance, here we have Tater from CNN:
— Matthew Dempster (@dempstermd) July 25, 2019
Babylon Bee is taking this threat seriously. My colleague Kira Davis posted on this earlier.
The stakes are being raised and soon Snopes, which is teetering on the edge of insolvency anyway, may have to defend its jihad against Babylon Bee and its efforts to use libelous statements to put them out of business before an actual judge. Because it is not only certain that they do not have the financial resources of Gawker it is damned clear that Gawker’s publication of the video of Hulk Hogan and Mrs. Bubba-the-Love-Sponge having monkey-sex was Pulitzer Prize stuff compared to the sum total of Snopes’s product.
It is hard, a the editor of an online publication, to understate just how important this step by Babylon Bee is. The advertising market for political websites is definitely more austere than it was ten years ago. Facebook is a huge driver of traffic and the fact that agenda-driven asses can cause you grievous financial harm by lying about you is galling. I really hope Babylon Bee has hired a vicious, spiteful lawyer who gets bonuses every time he drives a Snopes employee into bankruptcy. And if they start a GoFundMe to pay for a lawsuit, I’ll give everything I can afford to see that happen.