Patterico's Pontifications

7/31/2019

Hot Air: Babylon Bee may Sue Snopes

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:26 am



[Headline from DRJ]

No Joke: Babylon Bee Sics Lawyers On Snopes Over “Fact Checks”

Even the satirists at the Babylon Bee have a limit to jokes — and the attempts by Snopes to “fact check” their humor doesn’t qualify. In a message to subscribers yesterday, the Bee declared that Snopes was attempting to exploit its position as a Facebook partner to “deplatform” the conservative satire site. In response, the Babylon Bee has decided to sic their very real and non-humorous attorneys against the urban-legend site to put an end to their harassment.

NOTE: I edited the title to add “may” since there doesn’t appear to be a lawsuit filed. My thanks to Davethulhu for pointing this out.

— DRJ

38 Responses to “Hot Air: Babylon Bee may Sue Snopes”

  1. See if you can quickly say my title 3 times.

    DRJ (15874d)

  2. I wonder what the real David Hogg thinks of this. Or, is that davidhogg111?

    Maybe Snopes can straighten that out.

    Munroe (0b2761)

  3. I’m slow. So that was the point of Snopes Snoping Babylon Bee! Not the silliness of not knowing satire when they see it, but fixing a fake news label on it for Facebook.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. Montagu hardest hit…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  5. It would be a very clever lawsuit, if it ever came to that. The case could easily be dismissed on the basis that Snopes’ take is merely opinion, in which case it’s a total takedown of “fact-checking”. Either way, Babylon Bee wins.

    Munroe (0b2761)

  6. 5. That’s why if I ran the Babylon Bee, I’d be all over any news station that would interview me, cable local or otherwise, repeating the same talking point:

    A court just ruled that Snopes is not factual.

    Beat those talking point-spewing Dem “strategists” at their own game.

    Gryph (08c844)

  7. Snopes’s fact checks are stupid, but I don’t think a lawsuit is the right response.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  8. #7 — It’s not your revenue stream being threatened.

    We don’t know if the Bee folks tried talking to Snopes first. If they did, and got told to buzz off (pun intended), this seems like a decent strategy for them. Deplatforming could put the Bee out of business, and its likely the FTC (by making terms of service are enforced) has some ability to get involved.

    I understand your reluctance on this issue. But we are dealing with two powerful organizations, anf the Bee may have decided they needed some power on their side.

    Appalled (d07ae6)

  9. I’m not an expert on Facebook economics but, given that Snopes has Facebook gatekeeper status, their mischaracterizations can cost the Bee some real money, therefore there could be potential damages, no?

    Paul Montagu (35419a)

  10. Snopes’s fact checks are stupid, but I don’t think a lawsuit is the right response.

    Not to appropriate the fatuous language of progressives, but it seems to be the best way to “raise awareness” of the scary power Snopes has to pass judgement on content posted to Facebook. Hopefully this will either convince Facebook to find another source to determine if news is true, or it will force Snopes to stand down and be more tolerant of parody.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  11. You can’t fact check satire. You can only fact check what you think – or want to think – they intended to say. But that’s a matter of opinion on which people can differ.

    What did Snopes actually do?

    The problem here seems to be that Snopes treated Babylon Bee as serious “news” and fact checked what they literally said, and that that could have the consequence of them being deplatformed from Facebook and losing revenue because it would be treated as :fake news” by Facebook.

    It’s fair enough to fact check satire – what’s true and what’s not true – if the satire gets enough attention but you can be wrong about your facts. But you have to be careful to make clear that the satire was not intended to be literally true.

    Snopes was probably set upon thsi course by mlicious complaints by leftists who knew whatS nopes routine policy was for deciding what to fact check.

    Sammy Finkelman (7cd5f4)

  12. “It would be a very clever lawsuit, if it ever came to that. The case could easily be dismissed on the basis that Snopes’ take is merely opinion, in which case it’s a total takedown of “fact-checking”. Either way, Babylon Bee wins.”

    – Munroe

    Unfortunately for your side, “truth” is also an airtight defense to defamation.

    I know “truth” is biased against you guys and fake news, but hopefully the Supreme Court can fix that amirite?

    Leviticus (efada1)

  13. The latest Bee article on Snopes is pretty good. This one, too. This one, too.

    Paul Montagu (35419a)

  14. The problem here seems to be that Snopes treated Babylon Bee as serious “news” and fact checked what they literally said…

    Um, no. What they’ve done is fact-checked the social media idiots who believed that the Bee’s reporting was true. Snopes’ problem is that they don’t like the Bee, and they’ve inserted some of their editorial opinion about their “content”.

    Paul Montagu (35419a)

  15. You guys have all fallen for the bigger hoax. There is no such thing as Snopes. It’s a fictional family of barn burners created by William Faulkner and made into a short film starring Tommy Lee Jones.

    nk (dbc370)

  16. ‘I know “truth” is biased against you guys and fake news, but hopefully the Supreme Court can fix that amirite?’
    Leviticus (efada1) — 7/31/2019 @ 8:49 am

    If we could only return to the days when truth was Pravda and news was Izvestia, amirite?

    Munroe (0b2761)

  17. If the Bee can prove all the elements of defamation, it sounds like a pretty good lawsuit to me:

    This is not the first time it has fact-checked the Bee’s work. In a particularly notable example, Snopes took up the Bee’s obviously absurd claim that CNN had purchased industrial washing machines to launder the news. The consequences of fact-checking can be grave. In previous coverage, RealClear Fact Check Review reported that pieces deemed false by fact-checking outfits stand to lose as much of 80% of their Facebook audience. This is because the social media giant uses such verdicts to justify reducing the distribution of pieces deemed false. It hardly seems just to treat an openly satirical story with the same censorious hand as misleading or outright untruthful journalism. And, in fact, Facebook apologized to the Bee for its threat of censorship that resulted from the initial Snopes story.

    As for the defamation elements, Snopes calls itself “the internet’s definitive fact-checking resource.” It checks facts, not opinions, so it may have a problem with asserting that defense.

    Also, Snopes (or its lawyers) may be concerned because it added this Editors’ Note to its post:

    Editors’ Note: Some readers interpreted wording in a previous version of this fact check as imputing deceptive intent on the part of Babylon Bee in its original satirical piece about Georgia state Rep. Erica Thomas, and that was not the editors’ aim. To address any confusion, we have revised some of the wording mostly for tone and clarity. We are in the process of pioneering industry standards for how the fact-checking industry should best address humor and satire.

    DRJ (15874d)

  18. I am not sure what was changed but Hot Air reprinted a tweet that Snopes described the Bee’s article as a “ruse,” which suggests deception. The word “ruse” does not seem to be in the current Snopes’ post.

    DRJ (15874d)

  19. The Babylon Bee got a quick foothold and have built a pretty good presence, and they are taking on the loads of potential material ignored by The Onion (and SNL) for the past ten years. IMO they passed the humor quality of both from the get-go.

    This attempt to marginalize is just a small example of what the Tech Lords do to conservatives every day.

    If Snopes was truly neutral they would treat both sites (Onion and BB) equally. It’s not even close. If they got BB links banned from Facebook it would be huge.

    Hopefully shaming will do the trick but many are beyond shame.

    harkin (92ce59)

  20. I white-listed Babylon Bee but not bookmarked it. I’ll still depend on Paul for links.

    nk (dbc370)

  21. And oh yeah it’s good for a chuckle every day:


    Mueller Reminds Congress Report Doesn’t Exonerate Trump From Assassination Of President Lincoln

    Gideons Announce Daring Plan To Sneak Bibles Into Progressive Churches

    Marianne Williamson Not Sure What She’s Doing Up Here With All These Crazy People

    harkin (92ce59)

  22. You cant fact check satire, it’s like harry snapped organs of q division all over again.

    Narciso (72d34b)

  23. “You cant fact check satire.”

    – narciso

    Sure you can. Watch:

    “Gideons Announce Daring Plan To Sneak Bibles Into Progressive Churches”

    Snopes:

    “We checked with the Gideons, and they said they do not actually have any plan to sneak Bibles into progressive churches.”

    It may be lame party-pooper behavior, but it is not defamation.

    Leviticus (efada1)

  24. What these outlets are learning is that filing frivolous defamation actions is a relatively low-cost way to make themselves look like aggrieved victims of a big liberal conspiracy – of which the judge who inevitably dismisses their frivolous claims will inevitably be a part.

    This is why we need stronger anti-SLAPP laws in every state.

    Leviticus (efada1)

  25. Is it tortious interference with a contractual relationship, namely Babylon Bee’s and Facebook’s, if you misrepresent it as #FakeNews, knowing that it is satire, with the intention to have Facebook deplatform or demonetize Babylon Bee?

    BTW, I fact-checked, and Babylon is neither a Bee nor in or from Babylon. It’s a humor site on the internet.

    nk (dbc370)

  26. Babylon *Bee* is neither

    nk (dbc370)

  27. Like teddy salad wasnt actually an agent of the CIA and the piranha (nee crays) werent in fear of a giant hedgehog named spiny norman

    Narciso (72d34b)

  28. There is an update to the HotAir post as follows:

    Update, 7/31/19: Snopes stopped working with Facebook in February, although they haven’t ruled out returning to that partnership. Snopes announced that they are “keep[ing] an open dialogue” with Facebook on fact-checking efforts.

    This makes a difference. As long as there was a possibility of deplatforming involved, getting the lawyers involved made sense. Now that we are back to “two blogs having a spat”, zzzzzz.

    Appalled (d07ae6)

  29. filing frivolous defamation actions is a relatively low-cost way to make themselves look like aggrieved victims of a big liberal conspiracy”

    If by chance Facebook used the Snopes ‘fact-checking’ to de-platform the Bee while ignoring same from The Onion, would it change your opinion on friviolity?

    harkin (92ce59)

  30. 24… like mother’s milk to lawyers everywhere…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  31. Babylon *Bee*

    The name Bee is one of those newspaper names like Herald, or Tribune, or Record, or Journal,or Sentinel, or Post or Times or News – it’s a play on the Sacramento and other Bee’s. (They later had one in Modesto and in Fresno)

    From page 35 of the book: “apers of Permanence; The First 150 years of the McClatchy Company (The McClatchy Company, 2007)

    The name “Bee” was chosen, the paper’s initial editorial explained, “as being different from that of any other paper in the state, and as also
    being emblematic of the industry which is to prevail in its every department.”

    In other words, “busy as a bee.”

    Snopes could still fact chcek the name as not being associated with the McClachy newsapers and not being a newspaper at all.

    Sammy Finkelman (7cd5f4)

  32. 7. I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that if Snopes’ “fact checks” are the cause of actual measurable economic loss for the Babylon Bee, particularly by way of malicious falsehood, that is an example of exactly why defamation laws exist.

    Gryph (08c844)

  33. I’m not sure if the title of this thread is correct. I think that Babylon Bee has only retained lawyers at this point, I can’t find any evidence that an actual suit has been filed.

    Davethulhu (fab944)

  34. Somehow, despite all of Lord Soros’ hard work and influence, the following Babylon Bee tweet found its way onto my Twitter. I was preparing to write a scathing email to @jack, but paused for a fatal second, read it, and chuckled.

    https://twitter.com/TheBabylonBee/status/1156663321556389890

    Davethulhu (fab944)

  35. That is funny but clearly FAKE NEWS. Snopes should fact-check it immediately.

    DRJ (15874d)

  36. I’m not sure if the title of this thread is correct. I think that Babylon Bee has only retained lawyers at this point, I can’t find any evidence that an actual suit has been filed.

    Davethulhu (fab944) — 7/31/2019 @ 1:53 pm

    Good point. What if I add a question mark or “may”?

    DRJ (15874d)

  37. I added “may.” Thanks, Davethulhu.

    DRJ (15874d)

  38. RealClearPolitics weighs in:

    In the past, RealClear Fact Check Review has praised Snopes for its tendency to stick to verifying facts rather than committing the cardinal sin of “fact-checking” opinion. But in the same breath, we observed a tendency to use opinionated language when assessing claims. In short, we argued that Snopes does not fact check editorials, but it does editorialize. The piece on the Babylon Bee is another example of this tendency.

    DRJ (15874d)


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