Facebook flags Christian satire site as fake news over article mocking CNN

(Reuters/Dado Ruvic)Electronic cables are silhouetted next to the logo of Facebook in this September 23, 2014 illustration photo in Sarajevo.

Facebook has reportedly flagged Christian satire site Babylon Bee as "fake news" after it published an article stating that CNN had purchased an "industrial-sized washing machine to spin news before publication."

The article, published on March 1, claimed that the machine would allow the reporters to load the facts of any given issue and they would receive a "nearly unrecognizable version of the story that's been spun to fit with the news station's agenda."

After the article was flagged by Snopes.com as false, Babylon Bee Founder and editor Adam Ford received notification from Facebook, warning him that publishing another story with "disputed info" would result in demonetization and reduced viewership.

"Snopes has 'fact-checked' several of our articles before. But this is the first time Facebook has used that to threaten us with reduced reach and demonetization," Ford told The Daily Caller.

Apart from the notification issued to Ford, Facebook had also reportedly been warning its users who click on the article that it has been fact-checked by Snopes.

"Before you share this content, you might want to know that there is additional reporting on this from Snopes.com," the social media giant stated in a little pop-up window.

Facebook has since issued an apology, saying its warning to the satirical website has been a mistake.

"There's a difference between false news and satire. 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," Facebook said in a statement to The Daily Caller.

Although Snopes acknowledged that the article in question was just a spoof, it claimed that the satirical nature of the piece was not apparent among some readers.

The fact-checking website went on to claim that the Babylon Bee, which describes itself as "Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire," has published several articles that have been mistaken for real news.

Since 2016, Snopes had reportedly fact-checked 13 articles from the Babylon Bee and 17 articles from another satirical website, The Onion.

In August 2017, Snopes had fact-checked a Babylon Bee article claiming that Joel Osteen had sailed through Houston after the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in his luxury yacht to promote his book "Your Best Life Now."

Snopes also noted at the time that the article originated from a satirical website, but it claimed that the story had been copied to other sites where it was not clearly marked as satire.

In 2016, Facebook had partnered with Snopes to help fact-check numerous fake news stories being shared by its users.

Facebook had been criticized for its alleged political bias after employees told Gizmodo in 2016 that they had suppressed conservative news. The social media giant also faced criticism from the left over the circulation of election-related content from Russian advertisers on the popular social media platform.

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