Seth Dillon, who has led the Bee since 2018, tells American Family News the humorous news website keeps battling Big Media in a bizarre fight over what is and is not real news, but that fight now includes a blatant attempt at censorship on social media.
“Right now the biggest threat to free speech is not coming from the state or federal government,” he warns. “It's coming from tech companies that wield unprecedented power.”
After pushing back against The New York Times earlier this year, Dillon and the Bee are now expecting a fight with Facebook, the social media titan, after it announced a policy that appears to target the Bee’s key ingredient: humor mixed with truth.
“They're suggesting that they're going to allow satire on their platforms,” Dillon says of Facebook’s policy, “but not satire that ‘punches down,’ meaning satire that takes aim at people that shouldn't be joked about.”
But who gets to decide who deserves to be today’s victim of political and cultural satire?
From his point of view, Dillon views that policy as an Orwellian-like attempt by Facebook to decide if a Bee article is poking fun at the “wrong people” and is therefore “hate speech” and thus prohibited.
Bee in business of ‘punching back’
Back in April, Dillon told National Review Online that he and others at the Bee realized the website was depending too heavily on Facebook, where 90% of web traffic was coming from, and it was depending on ad revenue from Google ads. That is why the Bee began selling merchandise such as t-shirts and coffee mugs, and urged its readers to purchase a subscription, he said, which was helping the Bee move away from relying on Big Tech.
Even the Bee’s merchandise pokes fun at people and current events with an element of truth, such as the “Your Body, My Choice” Joe Biden T-shirt and the “Cancel Cancel Culture” slogan on stickers and coffee mugs.
In that same interview, Dillon recalled what created the fight with the Times: an article that suggested the Bee “sometimes trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire.”
Dillon called that description from the Times newsroom “defamation” and a “damaging smear,” and he predicted a half-year ago the Times controversial story could influence Twitter and Facebook to agree the Bee is peddling in “misinformation” and therefore deserves to be punished.
This week, after President Biden shocked the country with an unconstitutional order for U.S. businesses, the Bee again demonstrated it still has a pulse on the American public: “Biden announces he has natural immunity to the Constitution,” a hastily-written Bee headline reads.
“When they say that we're punching down, my response, typically, is, no we're not,” Dillon tells American Family News. “We're punching back.”