US Navy hilariously steps in after USA Today fact-checks satire about Trump wanting boats in space

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Left-wing mainstream media outlets and their social media allies continue to conduct fact-checks on satire, despite how partisan doing so makes them look.

But will they fact-check the U.S. Navy too?

The latest fact-check involves The Babylon Bee, a conservative Christian satire that has faced multiple seemingly partisan fact-checks since its inception in 2016. The evidence of the partisanship lies in the fact that the media never fact check The Onion, a fellow satire site whose content leans demonstrably to the left.

On Tuesday, the Bee published a story titled, “With Moon Water Announcement, Trump Proposes Space Navy.” It was clearly meant as a joke.

Later that same day, a satirical Facebook page by the name of “The United States Space Force” picked up the story and shared it to its page.

Look:

#SpaceForce #SemperSky #SpaceSeamen

Posted by The United States Space Force on Tuesday, October 27, 2020

While there were no warnings on the post about the screenshot being satire, the page’s “About” section clearly states, “This is a parody page and in no way associated with the actual ‘U.S. Space Force.'”

Look:

Anyone who viewed the post should have known they were viewing satire. In fact, if you scroll through the top comments, you’ll see that nobody took the post seriously.

Nevertheless, watch what happened to the page’s post:

Facebook attached a fact-check to it. The network’s widely abused and inaccurate fact-checks cause a reduction in reach and traffic, meaning they count as penalties.

This where the media enter the picture.

If you click on “See Why,” Facebook justifies its fact-check by citing a report from USA Today, a mainstream outlet that in recent months has falsely accused the Trump campaign of using Nazi symbolism in its swag, and sought to effectively doxx everybody who’d attended Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearing.

“The claim that Trump proposed a Space Navy is FALSE, based on our research. The claim originated on the Babylon Bee, a satirical website. There is no evidence that Trump made any sort of proposal after water was discovered on the sunlit surface of the moon,” the outlet’s official fact-check reads.

The fact-check was published Thursday. The following day, The Babylon Bee — which had shared the “Moon Water Announcement” story to its Twitter page on Tuesday — became aware of the fact-check and chose to respond with a dose of sarcasm.

Look:

And this is where the U.S. Navy enters the picture.

At 5:15 pm this Friday, a couple hours after The Babylon Bee responded to USA Today’s fact-check, the Navy decided to get in on the satire too.

Look:

So … is USA Today going to fact-check the Navy!?

As of Saturday, the left-wing news outlet hadn’t fact-checked the Navy yet, though it had shared its fact-check of The Babylon Bee to Twitter. Bad move …

Look at the response it provoked on Twitter below:

Meanwhile, The Babylon Bee has since retracted his retraction.

Look:

Jokes aside, what makes USA Today’s fact-check particularly insidious is that people are paying a tangible price for its seemingly partisan decision to fact-check satire.

As noted earlier, “The United States Space Force” Facebook page was hit with a fact-check because of USA Today. The problem is that according to Facebook’s official policies, fact-checks come with penalties.

“Once a fact-checker rates a piece of content as False, Altered or Partly False, it will appear lower in News Feed, be filtered out of Explore on Instagram, and be featured less prominently in Feed and Stories. This significantly reduces the number of people who see it. We also reject ads with content that has been rated by fact-checkers,” the policy reads.

The policy also warns that pages that are fact-checked may suffer “some restrictions, including having their distribution reduced. They may also have their ability to monetize and advertise removed, and their ability to register as a news Page removed for a given time period.”

And so to recap, a Facebook page that’s clearly labeled “Satire” is being punished because the conservative satire it shared was fact-checked by the media …

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Vivek Saxena

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