There’s debate about social media applications policing content in the wake of Russian election meddling during the 2016 election. And rightly so. On the one hand, implementing tactics to stop “fake news” is desirable and easily considered a necessary civic good; on the other, who really trusts huge tech companies with a known political agenda like Google and Facebook — and maybe especially Google — to fairly police what people see and what they’re forbidden from seeing?
Facebook, if the following tweet is true, isn’t making the case it can be responsible content stewards by invoking the work of a “fact-checking” website (which is also believed by some to lean in a distinct political direction, by the way) like Snopes to discredit a “legitimate” fake news outlet — which is to say, a news outlet that is fake by design, is open about it, and exists solely to present the news using satire and comedy.
A gentleman named Adam Ford, who apparently either administers the Facebook page for The Babylon Bee, the baby brother of the great news satire site The Onion, or was privy to the notice the page received, posted an official warning from Facebook that the page was spreading fake news with a piece about CNN using a washing machine to spin the news before it was published.
No, really. That actually happened.
Really, Facebook?? pic.twitter.com/HEtBc7C0Gz
— Adam Ford (@Adam4d) March 2, 2018
What’s more, if this is true, the Bee was warned that if it happened again, Facebook would penalize them by reducing the distribution of their content and their ability to earn revenue from ads.
If Facebook wants anyone to actually believe they can reasonably police content (personally, I’m not sure I’ll ever be sold), they’re going to need to work on having a sense of humor.