In July of 2016, I recounted this jaw-droppingly idiotic story, and confidently pronounced it The Dumbest Ethics Story Ever Told, Less than two years later, is has a challenger, and it took the combined ethics cluelessness and general cluelessness of serial ethics miscreants Facebook and Snopes to create it,
Let’s meet the players, shall we? The Babylon Bee is not a hoax site of the sort that has often been designated as an Unethical Website here, but a satire site, and a pretty good one. The distinction isn’t hard to see. Hoax sites publish fake news stories that are specifically designed to fool people, and especially the news media, into thinking they are true. Their stories are often unlikely but not much more unlikely than the forehead-smacking things that Nancy Pelosi says or President Trump tweets regularly, and they are generally not especially clever or funny. Hoax sites also do not include the disclaimer that the site is not a legitimate news source where it is easily seen or read. Usually these are not even on the home page, or visible with every story. Satire sites, like the Bee, are skillful enough that nobody but morons–you know, like the people in charge of Facebook and Snopes, could possibly take their satire as fact. They also have a clear statement on the home page, like what the Bee includes in a black bar with white lettering on the bottom: The Babylon Bee is Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire.
Facebook you know, presumably. Perhaps you even know that, chagrined that it was the main platform through which Russians, bots and Lithuanian pranksters planted fake news during the 2016 campaign, has been taking various measures to combat “fake news,” though not the fake news that Facebook’s ideologically sympatico pals in the mainstream news media issue routinely. To help it identify the other kind of fake news, Facebook has allied with some well-known factcheckers, none of whom are completely trustworthy, and one less so than others, Snopes, which Ethics Alarms has exposed numerous times as biased, partisan, sloppy and untrustworthy. In my assessment, any organization, including Facebook but also news organizations, that relies upon or cites Snopes has condemned itself to the same category, which I will summarize for the sake of brevity as Unethical Hacks.
The Babylon Bee published a story with this headline: “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication.”
ATLANTA, GA — In order to aid the news station in preparing stories for consumption, popular news media organization CNN purchased an industrial-sized washing machine to help its journalists and news anchors spin the news before publication.
The custom-made device allows CNN reporters to load just the facts of a given issue, turn a dial to “spin cycle,” and within five minutes, receive a nearly unrecognizable version of the story that’s been spun to fit with the news station’s agenda.
One reporter was seen inserting the facts of a recent news story early Thursday morning.
“Okay, so we just slip in the location, the people involved, the facts of the story, and there we go,” he muttered as he fiddled with the buttons and dials on the machine. “Spin for five minutes on high, and we’ll have ourselves a news story.”
Now, just how stupid do you have to be not to comprehend that this is a joke? Ah, but those left-biased communications powers like CNN and Facebook stick together, so Facebook, because bias makes you stupid, and if you tended to be unethical and stupid anyway it can really make you stupid, thought this was a real effort to mislead facebook readers and pick up votes for Donald Trump or something, so it came down on the Bee like the Spanish Inquisition:
That’s right, Snopes checked whether CNN had actually purchased a giant washing machine! See?
It is similarly false that my uncle crossed a raccoon with a kangaroo and got a fur coat with pockets. This isn’t false. This is called “a joke.” Ah, but Snopes feels that the giant washing machine tale was jussst a little too believable, so it is sinister enough for Facebook to take action:
Although it should have been obvious that the Babylon Bee piece was just a spoof of the ongoing political brouhaha over alleged news media “bias” and “fake news,” some readers missed that aspect of the article and interpreted it literally. But the site’s footer gives away the Babylon Bee’s nature by describing it as “Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire,” and the site has been responsible for a number of other (usually religious-themed) spoofs that have been mistaken for real news articles.
If you click on “spoofs” in this part of the Snopes article, you discover that these were among the Bee stories that Snopes felt needed definitive sleuthing.
Did Jim Bakker Say ‘Trump Was Merely Sharing the Gospel with That Porn Star’?
Is Playing Christmas Music Before Thanksgiving Now a Federal Crime?
Was Joel Osteen Recently Horrified To Learn About The Crucifixion?
Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht Through Flooded Houston to Pass out Copies of His Book?
California Christians Must Register Bibles as Assault Weapons?
Verdict: Both Facebook and Snopes think that Facebook readers and the public generally are idiots, and neither has the common sense and discretion to discern when a gag is so ridiculous that it cannot reasonably be blamed on its creator if some mouth-breathing clod believes it.
This fiasco has a nice punchline: the Babylon Bee’s latest story was this:
Snopes Launches New Website To Fact-Check Snopes Fact Checks
U.S.—Popular fact-checking site Snopes.com rolled out a brand-new spinoff site designed to fact-check previously published fact checks on Snopes.com, reliable sources confirmed Tuesday.The new site is called “Snopes Snopes,” and will comb through the original site’s articles in order to label them “True,” “False,” or “Clearly Biased,” assisting readers in discerning fact from fiction on the popular site which claims to debunk urban legends, hoax news stories, and satire.
“Our readers can now determine when a Snopes.com fact check is clearly erroneous or biased, with our help,” one Snopes fact-checker told reporters. “Rest assured that we will remain as neutral as possible when fact checking our own articles.”
“Up until now, the question everyone was asking was, ‘Who Snopes the Snopes?’ and now we have an answer,” she added.
At publishing time, Snopes editors had confirmed plans to launch a third site designed to fact-check its own fact checks of its own fact checks.
What do you think? Is this the new title-holder of The Dumbest Ethics Story Ever Told, or does the title still belong with the saga of Isabelle Lassiter, who called the police and filed a charge of sexual assault against a Japanese chef who jokingly squirted water on her using a plastic toy in the form of a little boy where the water was emitted from the “weiner” area, though, as the responding officer stated, “I observed the toy to have no penis and just a hole for the water to shoot out.” The plastic little boy was briefly taken into custody.
23 thoughts on “Wait…Maybe THIS, And Not The Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse Plastic Peeing Boy Controversy, Is THE DUMBEST ETHICS STORY EVER TOLD!!!”
Didn’t you declare Babylon Bee to be an unethical satire site because it wasn’t obviously satire AND didn’t display its disclaimer at the top?
Well, I just spent 30 minutes searching all the Unethical websites, all the posts tagged “fake news sites” and “Hoaxes”, and no post but this one comes up when I search for the name “Babylon Bee.” Can you find it?
You later removed the link: https://ethicsalarms.com/2017/07/17/morning-ethics-warm-up-71717/. It was your number 2.
I never had the link up, and I never mentioned the site by name. But you’re right: the story fooled Instapundit, I followed the link, and didn’t catch the joke.
I was just wrong about the site not having a disclaimer on the home page. I didn’t scroll down far enough. Its statement that it’s a satire website was in exactly the same position Ethics Alarms says its an ethics website.
Here’s the story involved: http://babylonbee.com/news/cnn-report-millions-american-voters-may-colluded-elect-trump/
I never made it an unethical website, I’m guessing, because I found the disclaimer.
I figured at some point you did mention the story by name because that is how I was able to track it. I remembered asking about it in the comments.
Wait a second, I thought Snopes rated the Bee the most accurate news organization: http://babylonbee.com/news/snopes-rates-babylon-bee-worlds-accurate-news-source/
This could and should be absolutely HILARIOUS!!! That it isn’t is both sad and frightening.
Even I, an Appalachian county girl, knew these thing were jokes. This brings to my mind a photo of Obama kissing a man while Michelle was in the background watching with a dropped jaw which was posted on Facebook. I knew it was a joke but my 69 year old sister-in-law, that was new to Facebook and photo shop, didn’t. She was so embarrassed because she had shared it with all of her friends.
I think this is Facebook’s fault, rather than Snopes per se.
Snope’s lists this under “Humor”: https://www.snopes.com/category/facts/humor/
Snope’s entry is poking fun at its readers and itself. The entry is not a “real” fact check, but in a section specifically labeled humor, with a tongue-in-cheek rating of “false”.
Facebook, however, is proving itself to be censorious, ridiculous, and inept by fighting “fake news” with poorly written algorithms. Technology simply cannot be trusted to supplant critical thinking, and Facebook’s naive belief that it can should be very concerning.
I am also delighted that you’ve introduced me to the Babylon Bee!
Christian Living: Calvinist Dog Corrects Owner: ‘No One Is A Good Boy’
The owner actually did reply: “Rupert I have good news and bad news. You do not have a divine soul but rather a ‘natural’ or animal soul. Thus you were not an active agent in the Fall and no ancestor of yours fell. I grant you that you suffer along with all creation for the effects of man’s Fall, but I assure you that you are completely ‘good’ insofar as you are completely ‘animal’ and ‘natural’.
Rupert bit him and then went missing.
It’s one of my favorite go to sites for a quick laugh.
As far as I understand it, Adam Ford runs the whole thing himself while doing satirical cartoons as well so his articles, of course, aren’t nearly as “in depth” as other satire sites like the Onion.
How can a factcheck site engage in jokes? The whole point is to be an authority and trustworthy. This isn’t an urban legend—the urban legend of the giant washing machine? The fact that CNN is a hack news organization is also no joke.
the ongoing political brouhaha over alleged news media “bias” and “fake news,”
Nice scare quotes around “bias.” Yeah, the claims of media bias is just another urban legend….says a partisan and biased factcheck group used by those biased media sources. It’s no joking matter, and Scopes doesn’t get to have “fun.”
That’s like saying the New York Times cannot have a comics page.
If Facebook were competent, it would never pull from the “Humor” section of Snopes. It would be like some posting about President Garfield, and Facebook marking the post “False”, because the New York Times says Garfield is a cat.
No, it’s like saying the Times should not publish April Fools editions and intentional hoax news. Or the Globe’s infamous fake Trump front page.
When, how and why did facebook ever become a news outlet? I thought it was for people to brag about their kids or themselves to unwitting victims. When did it get into journalism? (I avoid it like the plague.)
Facebook is the devil… or at least a minor nefarious imp.
I hit Facebook maybe every 2-3 months…just to see what my grandson is doing, but I STILL don’t like it.
it does not sit well with a former MI Analyst who they trained to gather info on the enemy… feels too much like painting a target on your back.
The Hillary Beat Trump site is a .org…legitimate? You be the judge.
President Hillary Rodham Clinton
NEWS FROM THE REAL AMERICA, WHERE THE MAJORITY RULES
In the midst of a Constitutional crisis, this is our response.
Long live the true president, Hillary Rodham Clinton
You have to click on “about us” for the disclaimer (The beats we fearlessly + satirically cover)
I admit, I have a bias towards humor. I voted for the previous winner in part because of the “Who snopes the snopes?” article.
This gave me what I am sure will be my biggest laugh for today:
“Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht Through Flooded Houston to Pass out Copies of His Book?”
Activists Take Break from Mourning Dead Gorilla to Cheer Abortion Ruling
Forbidden smile cracked.