Babylon Bee challenges social media censorship and deplatforming

The Babylon Bee says content standards should be applied "evenhandedly"

Christian satirical website The Babylon Bee is urging the state of Florida to uphold a law that stops social media platforms from censoring unpopular speakers or viewpoints.

The law was signed into effect in May by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and prohibits social media sites from "willfully deplatforming" political candidates and other Floridians by suspending or barring them.

The constitutionality of the law is being challenged by NetChoice, a free enterprise and free speech group that argues the regulations will bring Florida closer to "state-run media and a state-run internet". 

The Babylon Bee and its sister website, Not the Bee, are working with the First Liberty Institute to preserve the law.

They say they have experienced both censorship and shadow-banning - when a user's content has been hidden or restricted without their being informed it is happening. 

"Social media giants have lied to the public about allowing intellectual diversity on their platforms and are selectively applying their standards to censor disfavored conservative and religious speech," said Jordan Pratt, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute.

"Florida's law is a basic consumer-protection regulation that simply holds social media platforms accountable to the image of neutrality that they project, and it is consistent with federal law and the First Amendment."

In a briefing submitted to the appeals court on behalf of the websites, First Liberty accuses social media sites of being dishonest and inconsistent in the application of their standards and content policies.

"As Not the Bee has painstakingly documented in its headlines, America's social media titans have shattered Congress's expectations for a user-centric, free, and intellectually diverse Internet by repeatedly targeting conservative viewpoints for censorship through the selective and inconsistent application of ever-shifting 'standards'," the briefing states. 

"Censoring, deplatforming, and shadow-banning targeted viewpoints—including journalistic enterprises—through inconsistent application of standards is hardly motivated by 'honesty in belief or purpose.'

"It certainly doesn't align with what social media companies tell the public.

"Nowhere in Twitter's, Facebook's, or Instagram's user agreements will one find a provision announcing that their standards will be applied one way for conservatives, and another way for everyone else.

"Systematically inconsistent censorship under cover of supposedly neutral standards is dishonesty, plain and simple."

Seth Dillon CEO of Babylon Bee said of their submission, "We just want the tech companies to be transparent about what the rules are and then apply them equally.

"At a minimum, we want social media platforms to evenhandedly apply their content standards."