When the Content Police Came for the Babylon Bee

When the Content Police Came for the Babylon Bee. By Adam Ford. 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. …

A disturbing epiphany:

Facebook and Google are extremely liberal and they have massive control over what information reaches billions of people every day. Facebook the company is structured so Mark Zuckerberg — liberal Silicon Valley billionaire — has nearly complete control. Google the company is structured so Larry Page and Sergey Brin — liberal Silicon Valley billionaires — have nearly complete control. …

Facebook’s and Google’s worldviews are very similar — they believe that Christianity and conservatism are not only untrue, but harmful. Homophobic. Bigoted. These same people create the programs that decide what news, opinions, content, and all other information everyone sees every day.

The titanic scale these companies operate on has become a serious problem. BILLIONS of people use them as distributors of information. Take a moment and think about the long-term effects this could have on humanity at large over a long period of time. If you set out to influence masses of people toward a certain worldview, what more perfect system could you create? …

The stakes couldn’t be higher: what’s an oil or telephone monopoly compared to a monopoly on information? …

The Wentworth Report has nothing to do with Facebook. I’ve been told that we would be much bigger if we were on Facebook:

The majority of people get their news from Facebook. Because of this, publishers everywhere base everything they do around appeasing Facebook. Especially for any new venture launching into this environment — it’s Facebook or nothing.

Facebook is where all the people are, so do whatever they say! … And don’t you dare do anything that might irk them or transgress their progressive values, or they might cut you off! …

The idea of separating completely from Facebook and Google is terrifying to many people, so if that’s too much for you, let me suggest another smaller step: visit websites directly, instead of when Facebook and Google tell you to.

Has a website earned your trust? Visit that website directly and regularly, not just when Zuck decides to put them in your feed, not just when you enter a search and Google decides to spit them back out as a valid option. What sites have earned your trust? Go visit a few right now, and remember to visit them every day. That way you can push back against the centralization of the internet.

A small group of people who are hostile toward Christianity and conservatism are in control of those magical machines in our pockets that offer answers to all of our questions. We should be disturbed by privacy abuses. We should be concerned about the long-term effects of addictive phone and social media use. But the clear and present danger of the Google and Facebook Information Duopoly should be enough for us to make changes — right now.

hat-tip Stephen Neil