It’s hard to know what to laugh at nowadays. That could be true for a lot of areas and a lot of reasons with political correctness and triggering and all the rest of so much nonsense running wild. What we are thinking of here though is the hilarity that reigns in the realm of the media, fake news, satire and fact-checking.
More specifically, as in Snopes and The Babylon Bee.
It’s possible more people have heard of Snopes than The Babylon Bee (although given recent trends and events, maybe not). Snopes has certainly been around much longer, since 1994, as a matter of fact, in another variation. The Bee got its start in 2016. The trends of the two sites may almost be drawn in opposite directions.
While Snopes enjoyed a long and rising popularity as a respected fact-checking website, one might be pardoned for wondering about it’s latest developments. The past several years do not seem to have been kind: the founders divorce, staffing issues, a cancelled Facebook deal and ownership disputes and other legal issues. A visit to the site elicits a big popup asking for donations. Meanwhile, The Babylon Bee‘s rise has been meteoric.
That’s not to say the site is about to disappear. As far as we know it will continue to do what it does. But, that does raise the question: what exactly does it do? Checking facts is an honored and necessary service. Kudos to those who do that work honestly and effectively. But – how do we put this delicately – do we really need someone to check “facts” on a satire site? Isn’t that just a bit…silly?Checking facts is an honored and necessary service. Kudos to those who do that honestly and effectively. But, how do we put this delicately, do we really need someone to check 'facts' on a satire site? Isn't that just a bit…silly? Click To Tweet
Satire, Fake News and Fact Checking
Hence, the uncertainty about who to laugh at. If the original satire is good (e.g. funny) then presumably we would laugh at that. We should be expected to and it should be okay to do that. But then along comes a site whose job is to check for false claims, i.e. “fake news”, and criticizes the satire site? Seriously? How do we not laugh at THAT?
Smack dab, front and center of the Bee’s home page, in bold type, is an email signup form stating: “Fake news you can trust, delivered straight to your inbox.” If someone wants to pass off fake news as legit, are they really going to advertise it like that? Furthermore, their About Us page states their “satire” status repeatedly, in addition to some very obviously and intentionally comical content.
My goodness, The Onion has been around since 1988, in print and later online. Satire is nothing new.
To be honest, anyone who doesn’t get this may want to seriously reconsider being on the internet. It may not be safe for you.
Actually, this is more than just silly, as there is a more sober side to things. Social media and other online activity can severely impact a business. It’s reputation, website traffic and revenue can all be affected greatly by impressions potential visitors get from other supposedly reputable sites. When a site like Snopes takes a left turn from previous respectable treatment and veers into its recent apparent bias, that deserves a critical eye.
Nick Gillespie interviews the Bee’s Editor in Chief Kyle Mann at Christian Satire Site The Babylon Bee Is So Good Snopes.com Treated It Like Real News. Check it out.