Adam Ford, the founder of Christian satire site The Babylon Bee announced he sold the company Tuesday, due in part to what he saw as anti-Christian and anti-conservative bias on Facebook and Google.
Ford is one of many Christian and conservative publishers to air their grievances regarding social media gatekeepers. They bring unprecedented reach, but exact a high cost, he says.
Ford most recently faced that cost in March, when Facebook threatened to reduce the Bee’s audience if it didn’t stop posting “false news.” Facebook later claimed the threat was a mistake, but several of the outlet’s — satirical — articles remained flagged with “fact check” warnings.
“You’re going to have to alter whatever needs to be altered — even your worldview — to accommodate Facebook,” Ford wrote. “If you miss a payment or step out of line, you’re going to get a beating. And if they ever decide you’re too much trouble, they’ll just shoot you. Facebook has the power to kill publishers, and they do, not only based on publishing techniques, but based on worldview. Just think about that.” (RELATED: Facebook Blocks Daily Caller Story)
The Bee is now majority-owned by Christian entrepreneur Seth Dillon, and former head-writer Kyle Mann has become the full-time editor and publisher. Ford will remain in media, however, running the Drudge Report-esque Christian Daily Reporter, which he launched in January. Now with a self-contained website, he says he doesn’t need to meddle with gatekeepers. (RELATED: How To Stop Facebook From Censoring Your News)
“The feeling of having my own playground, instead of playing in others’ playground by their rules, is hard to describe. It’s amazing,” he wrote. “CDR continues to grow as people come directly to it because they want to — not because Facebook decided to put a link in their feed, or because Google chose to include it in their search results.”
Google ended a “faulty” fact check feature on its search engine in January following Daily Caller News Foundation reporting. There were two major problems with the fact-check widget, which appeared on the sidebar of Google’s search results for very few sites and publications.
First, the legitimate outlets chosen were virtually all ones with conservatives audiences. The Daily Caller, for example, was given such treatment, while sites like Vox, Slate, The Huffington Post, Mother Jones and several others clearly on the left side of the political spectrum were not.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, many of the fact checks were wrong. One of the purported reviewed claims was for an article that straightforwardly reported that yet another member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team was a donor for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.
“We launched the reviewed claims feature at the end of last year as an experiment with the aim of helping people quickly learn more about news publications,” a spokeswoman for Google told TheDCNF, while also adding that TheDCNF was the catalyst for the recent move. “We said previously that we encountered challenges in our systems that maps fact checks to publishers, and on further examination it’s clear that we are unable to deliver the quality we’d like for users.”
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