Twitter suspended the account of parody news site The Babylon Bee after it mocked Democrat VP candidate Kamala Harris and ‘mail vote suppression’ conspiracies. It was shortly restored amid protests about censorship.
The Bee went dark around 6 pm on Monday. Archives showed that their last tweet was a story about President Donald Trump “riding around in an SUV” smashing mailboxes “to make it impossible for people to mail in their ballots.”
The tweet before that one was about Harris proposing a “housing plan” where “everybody gets free 10’x10’ room and three meals a day” – a clear reference to prison, as Harris had been a prosecutor before getting elected to the Senate.
One conservative commentator pointed out that Twitter spokesman Nick Pacilio was previously the press secretary for Harris’s abortive presidential campaign.
“Questioning Twitter over comms connections to possible VP Kamala Harris is silly.”*Twitter suspends Babylon Bee account after satirical hit on Kamala Harris. https://t.co/MyDZ4MnAoi
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) August 17, 2020
The publication’s editor in chief Kyle Mann shared a screenshot of the email from Twitter, telling him the account was suspended for “violating rules against platform manipulation and spam.”
According to Twitter’s own rules, behavior that “that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience” is out of bounds. The company defines manipulation as “using Twitter to engage in bulk, aggressive, or deceptive activity that misleads others and/or disrupts their experience.”
Before anyone could figure out if that covers censorship of satire, however, the Bee’s account was back up – only with a greatly diminished follower count. The publication was free to share its latest story, about how the Democrats have reversed their position on the USPS after Trump had his face put on all stamps.
The Bee’s stinging mockery of mainstream media news coverage has made it a lot of enemies over the years, including CNN and the “fact checkers” at Snopes, who argued that Americans are too stupid to realize this kind of content is satire.
Mann and the Bee’s defenders have countered that the site clearly labels stories as satire. If the mainstream media reporting has become so ridiculous that the audience can’t tell it apart from ridicule, that’s not the Bee’s problem but their own, they say.
In a message to another Bee editor, Twitter said the account was “flagged as spam by mistake” by “systems” tasked with doing that, without specifying whether it was a computer algorithm or a person that made the call.
We are back. Twitter destroyed our headquarters with a drone strike, but we are being assured it was an honest mistake.
— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) August 17, 2020
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