Twitter suspended The Babylon Bee (a conservative-leaning parody website) for 12 hours after it mockingly gave Rachel Levine, a transgender official, the title of “Man Of The Year.”
This story is a reaction to USA Today Levine is the US assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services. She was one of their “women of the year” last week.
Seth Dillon (@SethDillon), the CEO of The Babylon Bee tweeted: “I just got the notice that our account has been locked out for ‘hateful behavior’.”
Dillon replied to a number of tweets that followed, explaining that while the account will be restored within 12 hours but that it won’t start until the deleted tweet is removed. Dillon refused to comply with this request. Dillon added that while the tweet inflicting offense is still live, The Babylon Bee cannot post any new content.
It was a terrible mistake for Twitter to have set its goal of removing harmful content. That original tweet, which was posted on March 15, had largely flown under the radar – yet when news that the parody site’s account was suspended, the tweet suddenly went viral.
Jessica O’Donnell of The Blaze tweeted the following image from The Babylon Bee on Sunday night: @heckyessica It twitter does not want us to share it. so definitely don’t share it”
The tweet received a lot of attention on Twitter. Multiple media outlets have also covered The Babylon Bee’s suspension. Twitter did not expect such a response.
Susan Campbell, an ex-editor of The New Haven newspaper and a distinguished professor at Yale University said that viral content is hilarious. Although we need more satire I am skeptical about The Babylon Bee’s motivations. You seem to find a lot stories about transgender people in it.
Many who rebuked the parody site also suggested it has just the one joke – poking fun at the transgender community – a fact that The Babylon Bee only further embraced. Self-deprecatingly, The Babylon Bee even published a new story, “Babylon Bee Writers Struggling With New Material After Twitter Bans the 1st of Their 2 Jokes.”
In this particular case, the issue was more of hate speech than misinformation, but past stories from The Babylon Bee have been shared – often times as fact. Campbell acknowledged that it can be difficult to tell the difference between true news and fake news on social media.
Campbell said Monday that Campbell was even caught redetweeting content from The Babylon Bee, which he thought was true.
Refusal To Speak
It is not that Twitter tried to remove the offensive tweet using its policy, but it created an uproar and made the matter public.
Campbell stated that Twitter tried transparency in explaining what drove them to take these decisions. But it did not work in this particular case.
The Babylon Bee may be punished – and as Dillon refuses to delete the tweet, it seems unlikely that the parody site will be allowed to post on Twitter again. Those who didn’t know about it before the incident are now aware of the site.
What this shows is that Twitter doesn’t lend itself to deep discussion. Although there are lots of people supporting The Babylon Bee and others who are critical of the site, the fact that the tweet was criticized by many is a sign that it’s unlikely that any meaningful conversations will take place on social media.
Campbell stated, “I’ve never seen Twitter as an area for deep discussions.” “Social media continues to be a platform for quick hits and where people can express their opinions in only a few words.”