Fact Check: Twitter Did NOT Shut Down Entire Network To Slow Spread Of Negative Biden News

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: Twitter Did NOT Shut Down Entire Network To Slow Spread Of Negative Biden News Satire

Did Twitter shut down its entire network to slow the spread of negative news about Joe Biden? No, that's not true: the story was published by The Bablylon Bee (a satire website) after Twitter did experience some downtime shortly after a controversial story from the New York Post was blocked on Twitter under their hacked materials policy (which they later updated). However the satirical article was retweeted by President Trump and many people unfamiliar with The Babylon Bee treated it as real news and replied to the tweet as such.

The satire article was published by The Babylon Bee on October 16, 2020 titled "Twitter Shuts Down Entire Network To Slow Spread Of Negative Biden News" (archived here) which opened:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--In a last-ditch effort to stop negative stories about Joe Biden and his family from spreading, Twitter shut down its entire social network Thursday.

After seeing account after account tweet out one particularly bad story, CEO Jack Dorsey realized he had to take action. Dorsey smashed a glass box in his office reading "Break In Case Of Bad Publicity For Democrats." Inside the case was a sledgehammer for smashing Twitter's servers.

"Red alert -- shut the servers down! Shut them all down!"

The story was posted on Twitter via President Trump's Twitter account (tweet archived here):

Here is one Twitter user who seems to have believed it was real:

As this screenshot from downdetector.com (a site that tracks outages of internet services) shows, there was indeed an issue with Twitter:

downdetecor.jpg

Twitter Support indicated the real cause of the outage later:

The Babylon Bee is a satire site with following disclaimer on the 'about' page:

What is The Babylon Bee?

The Babylon Bee is the world's best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims. We write satire about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life.

The Babylon Bee was created ex nihilo on the eighth day of the creation week, exactly 6,000 years ago. We have been the premier news source through every major world event, from the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to the Reformation and the War of 1812. We focus on just the facts, leaving spin and bias to other news sites like CNN and Fox News.

If you would like to complain about something on our site, take it up with God.

Unlike other satire sites, everything we post is 100% verified by Snopes.com.

At Lead Stories we are big fans of satire but in accordance with our Satire Policy we sometimes fact check satirical content if it seems there are many people who don't get the joke (or if the joke gets stolen by Macedonian fake news sites and is then presented as "news"). To quote from our Satire Policy:

Sometimes jokes need to be fact checked. Not for you, because you are smart and you get the joke. But for the crazy uncle who thinks it is real. Or for the foreign journalist who doesn't know what The Onion is. Or for the people who missed the disclaimer and the hints. Or because the disclaimer and the hints were hidden on purpose.

And that is certainly not hypothetical in the case of The Babylon Bee:

Early in 2020 Sputnik News was fooled by a piece from The Babylon Bee into reporting Jordan Peterson would be hosting the Oscars. If only they had read our fact check from a year before...

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This fact check is available at IFCN's 2020 US Elections #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.


  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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