Thursday, 17 May 2018 06:18

Swatting at the Bee

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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For some, it might be required reading; for others, it may be an acquired taste. The Babylon Bee is a Christian satire site that will frequently give you something to think about, maybe chuckle at, or even laugh out loud!

 

Sometimes, it communicates truth in a profound way.  The headline for a story that ran following the Oscars proclaimed, “Man Who Got Famous Showing Scantily Clad Women Bouncing On Trampolines Lectures Nation On Sexual Propriety,” a reference to Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel, former co-host of a show that “featured heavy handed, vulgar objectification of women carried out in front of a crazed, drunken, slobbering male audience.”

 

Recently, the Bee was the victim of social media censorship.  It ran an obviously satirical story about CNN and was flagged as...yes...”fake news!”  The Federalist site reported:

 

 

The Babylon Beeset off Facebook’s alarm bells by publishing a satirical piece stating that CNN had purchased an “industrial-size 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. 

 

 

Snopes “decided to fact check the Bee’s claim, to ensure that no one actually thought that CNN ‘made a significant investment in heavy machinery.’”

 

 

The story said:

 

 

Hours later, Adam Ford, who runs The Babylon Bee, got a notification warning him that the post had been flagged as so-called “fake news” by Snopes, and that if it happened again, theBee’s Facebook page could face de-monetization and its posts would suffer a reduced reach.

 

 

Visitors received a message warning that “there is additional reporting on this from Snopes.com.”

 

 

The Federalistalso points out that Facebook stated to the Daily Caller News Foundation that, “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 article stated:

 

 

Facebook’s statement, however well intended, doesn’t undo what happened to the Bee, nor does it erase the very serious and frightening implications of the social network’s power over information.

 

The Bee responded with satire, stating that each publisher had received a “personal message…warmly reminding them that they are utterly dependent on the social media giant for traffic and that it is in complete control of their livelihood.”  It said:

 

“Publishers are important to Facebook,” the message sent to countless page admins read. “We want you to know that we care about you. Also, we will not hesitate to choke off your traffic until your organization ceases to be financially viable, should we feel the desire to do so at any time.”

 

 

In this instance, the story was not really a “Christian” story, but the Bee has been singled out before.  The Federalist article pointed out that Snopes “has repeatedly fact-checked tongue-in-cheek claims by the satirical site...”

 

At this year’s National Religious Broadcasters Convention, Jerry Johnson, NRB President, spoke about an NRB initiative called Internet Freedom Watch. He stated, according to NRB.org:

 

 

“Does it bother you that Dr. D. James Kennedy was taken off of the Amazon [Smile] gift program?” Johnson asked. “Does it bother you that a sitting member of the U.S. Congress, Marsha Blackburn, was taken off of Twitter when she announced her run for the U.S. Senate because she mentioned the sale of human body parts?

 

“Does it bother you that Dennis Prager’s videos – videos on Israel for instance – have been blocked and taken down and demonetized by YouTube? Does it bother you that Todd Starnes has been taken off of Facebook? Marjorie Dannenfelser has been taken off of Twitter.”

 

Some of those were among panelists addressing the issue, including Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who warned, “If we don’t use every tool available to push back on the Left’s intent of silencing Christian broadcasters and conservative broadcasters, we are going to wake up one day and free speech in America is going to be gone…”

 

In Nehemiah, we’re told the Israelites used one hand to build the wall of Jerusalem and the other to ward off those attempting to thwart the process.  Regarding social media, I think there is a similar construct: we use social media to “build” the Kingdom of God, to communicate truth, but we also recognize that there are providers who may not be neutral actors - certain platforms have attempted to restrict faith-related content.

 

The Israelites responded by continuing to build - and being ready to defend themselves.  Plus, there was communication: a trumpet sound to remind the people that God was with them.  I am thankful for those who stand watch, like NRB, who “sound the trumpet” to protect our freedoms and to ensure that people of faith are allowed to freely share the life-affirming truth of the gospel. It is important to stay informed and encourage one another.

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