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Big Tech Stings Again: TikTok Bans The Babylon Bee

July 6, 2022

Popular satire news source The Babylon Bee received a sting from TikTok after they were removed from the platform Monday without explanation, according to CEO Seth Dillon in a comment to The Washington Times.

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has raised stateside security concerns for a while. In a tweet by FCC commissioner Brendan Carr, he writes, “TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing. It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”

Security questions aside, this conservative Christian satire website — “fake news you can trust,” as they dub themselves in their Twitter bio — is known for their tongue-in-cheek exaggerations and humor followed by millions of fans, including billionaire Elon Musk. They are also no strangers to Big Tech censorship. Just three months ago, they were suspended from Twitter for tweeting their satire piece calling Biden-nominated Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender-identifying individual, their pick for “Man of the Year.” Since the tweet on March 20, the account has remained in Twitter jail.

“Satire has this power to get directly to people’s hearts and minds in a way that sometimes straight speech can not,” Kyle Mann, The Bee’s Editor-in-Chief, told Family Research Council in an interview in January at ProLifeCon 2022. “[It] also communicates a message. I think humor is such a good way to deliver a message. Conservatives have sometimes been bad at that — we’ve just released a bunch of cheesy movies… we’ve been bad at the element of actually injecting really good humor and really good creativity into those things that do communicate a message. So that’s what we’re trying to do at the Babylon Bee…”

According to Mann, the Bee’s biggest challenge has been censorship. The recent bannings by TikTok and Twitter aren’t the first attempts to try to silence the Bee’s satire. Last year, The New York Times accused The Babylon Bee of spreading false information, a move which Dillon called “false and defamatory,” telling Fox News that, “It is, in fact, The New York Times that is trafficking in misinformation, and they’re doing it under the guise of ‘journalism.’”

Another recent spat with mainstream media included CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan blasting The Bee’s comedy as misinformation, a criticism quickly met with a slew of satirical articles poking fun at the media outlet.

“Often, it comes from the fact checkers first, they’ll come after us and say that we’re sharing misinformation instead of jokes, and then that message then starts to spread,” Mann explained at ProLifeCon. “That’s obviously really scary for us because the fact checkers and the social media guys can use that to then ban us and deplatform us from social media, and we have experienced some of that.”

Nevertheless, The Babylon Bee refuses to back down or give into Big Tech or media giant bullying. From their point of view, they won’t allow cancel culture to have the final word. Kyle told FRC, “At The Babylon Bee, we try to be bold. We’re not gonna go out there and be cowardly and hide behind this or that, or do this middle-of-the-road humor that’s not going to clearly communicate the position that we’re coming from. I think we do need to be more bold on social media. Too many people are too afraid to speak out…”

The Babylon Bee did not respond to The Washington Stand’s request for comment at the time of this article’s publication.

Marjorie Jackson is a reporter for The Washington Stand and FRC's Digital Media Specialist.