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On Thursday, a Christian "humor" site called The Babylon Bee published an article titled “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication.” When the clearly satirical (though not in the funny way) article showed up in people's newsfeeds, they were pointed to a Snopes article debunking the post, and the owners of the site were issued a warning that their page could be demonetized for publishing "fake news."


Why did this happen? Because Snopes published an article "debunking" it, which triggered Facebook's "fake news alarms" to go off. When the owner of the site contacted Facebook, they apologized and the matter was resolved.

Despite this, conservatives across the internet have been exploding in rage for a few days now, claiming that this is part of a plot concocted by the evil liberals at Facebook meant to censor conservatives and Christians.

Over on The Federalist, writer Bre Payton complained that the article was clearly satire, suggesting that no reasonable person would think it was real.

This is obviously a joke and is clearly marked satire and is published on a site entirely devoted to satire. But the uptight jerks over at 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.” Uh, okay. Thanks, Snopes! Would’ve totally fallen for that one!

For this particular article, I am perhaps inclined to agree with her. The post, though painfully unfunny, was clearly absurd. However, she then goes on to claim that this is part of nefarious plan to censor conservatives on Facebook, which it is not.

People have, however, previously believed articles in The Babylon Bee before. So many people believed one article, titled "Steven Furtick Signs 6-Year, $110 Million Contract With Lakewood Church," that resulted in Furtick having to record a video saying it wasn't true.

Also outraged, of course, was rape apologist Mike Cernovich, who claimed that this was not only censorship, but persecution of Christians. He also claimed that various media sites kicking him off was a precursor to said Christian persecution.

Via RightWingWatch:

“Don’t defend me. I don’t need you to defend me. Here’s what I need you to say: ‘Facebook and Snopes, they hate Christians. If you let them get rid of Cernovich, we are next.’ And that’s the truth. It’s proven now,” Cernovich said. “So rather than let people drag you into the weeds about Cernovich and this and that, just say, ‘They are only going after Cernovich because the real target is Christians like us.’”

Cernovich urged viewers to download and reupload his warning on their own social media accounts because “none of us are going to be here much longer.” He declared, “If you’re a Christian, Facebook—they hate you. There’s no other way to put it.”

“They want you to be afraid of the gospel. If you preach the gospel, or you even profess your love of Christ and then just make jokes, if all you say now is ‘I’m a Christian’ and then you make jokes, you will be targeted by Snopes, you’ll be targeted by CNN, you’ll be targeted by Facebook,” he said.

What a martyr!

Cernovich also explained that this will not stop with the occasional mismarking of satirical news as fake news -- but soon lead to banning Christians from even having jobs!

“If you think this is going to end when they ban you from social media, if you think they aren’t going to make it so you can’t have a job if you’re a Christian, that you can’t run a business if you’re a Christian—this is just a warm-up.”

Yes, this is true. The true goal of liberals is to take out 80% of the workforce. For reasons. What reasons? We don't know, we'll get to that later, I guess, after we ban all of them from social media, which is a thing we are definitely trying to do.

The grand irony here is perhaps best illustrated by another unfunny article from The Babylon Bee site.

The article reads:

Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt shocked fans Monday when he admitted on Twitter that he was “praying” for Clerks director Kevin Smith, who suffered a heart attack Sunday night. Pratt is the latest in a long line of Hollywood elites who are guilty of using fame and power to accost those in lower positions with unsolicited acts of prayer. Smith, who was in a hospital bed at the time of the prayer, could do very little to prevent Pratt’s alleged unprovoked supplications.

Pratt, as you may know, was not in fact banned from Hollywood for saying he was praying. No one has been banned from anywhere for saying they are praying. No one is getting banned from Hollywood or social media for merely being Christian. No one is getting fired from their jobs for being Christian, although if our labor laws were designed by Conservatives, that would be a totally legal thing to do to people. No one is persecuting Christians, on Facebook or elsewhere.

But back to the satire!

This is a problem conservatives have brought upon themselves through their long and storied history of thinking satirical articles are real. Perhaps the best example of this is The Onion's famous “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex” story, which fooled not only many angry Yelp users, but also Louisiana Congressman John Fleming.

I'll just leave this one here.

The Onion is the best known satirical news site in all the country, and people regularly believe things in it are real. There is an actual website dedicated to tracking this. If people are going around thinking The Onion is real, then yes, sometimes satire does need to be "debunked."

Just last May, furious racists angrily shared a satirical and obviously fake article claiming that Malia Obama was arrested for dogfighting.

A brief trip to the Facebook page "America's Last Line of Defense," the satire site that the Malia article came from, features myriad comments from angry conservatives responding in earnest to obviously fake articles.

And let us not forget the Pope's "endorsement" of Donald Trump. That was from a "satire" site, too, and yet millions thought it was real.

Clearly, something being obvious satire is no proof against conservatives believing it. Should the page have been demonetized? Of course not -- it was a mistake and I'm glad that it was rectified. But the site wasn't targeted explicitly because it was Christian -- it was targeted because it was not a site any reasonable person would immediately recognize, and so when the Snopes article went up, it triggered an algorithm. It wasn't anything personal and it had nothing to do with religion.

Facebook algorithms suck for everybody (including Wonkette!). But if Conservatives want to get mad that people think they'd believe satire is real, then they should probably stop thinking satire is real all the time.

And now, this is your OPEN THREAD and a totally non-satirical plea for you to drop some cash into Wonkette's tip jar!

[The Federalist | Right Wing Watch | Poynter]

Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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