Facebook testing "satire" tags for news articles from sites like The Onion

Notice the "[Satire]" tag is pre-fixed to the links in the "related articles" box

With its first publication all the way back in 1988, the parody news outlet The Onion has been producing articles and headlines such as "Scientific community baffled by man whose waist 32 with some pants, 33 with others" and "A police officer doesn't see a difference between black and light-skinned black suspects." Of course none of the stories are real and, at best, they poke fun at real news. For most people, The Onion and similar parody sites are quickly identified and taken for what they are-- humor. Unfortunately this isn't the case for everybody and some take an "if its on the internet, it must be real!" approach to things, often having some very bizarre reactions.

In order to address this issue, Facebook is now testing a new "satire" tag feature for news articles coming from satirical websites in order to curve those who are gullible or caught off-guard into thinking that the articles are legitimate news. The way it works is that if you click on an article from a flagged satirical site, once you return to Facebook it will show a "related articles" box under the link. The related articles all have "[Satire]" (without the quotation marks) prefixed to the titles.

The official moves are actually a faster version of the Macarena dance.

The implementation itself is confusing in its limitations, as Ars Technica reports that while the "related articles" box has the tags, the original postings don't, and The Onion's sister-sites such as the Buzzfeed-spoof Clickhole do not have them either.

A Facebook representative issued the following statement to Ars Technica regarding the testing: 

"We are running a small test which shows the text '[Satire]' in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units."

Focusing specifically on The Onion, blogs like Literally Unbelievable seek to curate the social media responses of victims to the satirical news, often featuring hilarious outbursts of raw emotion and confusion.

Source: Ars Technica | Images via Ars Technica, Literally Unbelievable

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19 Comments

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Facebook should add a public column for users in case they are testing something new. They keep testing users data without informing this is really bad user experience.

Steven P. said,
I've had people on Facebook react with shock at some of the stories I've linked from The Onion :p

At this rate we'll end up with a disclaimer for everything! "Warning the following post may contain graphic or unsuitable sarcasm".

pmdci said,
Please create also a 'sarcasm sign'.

Yeah, because people will "totally" use it.
Yeah, because people will totally use it.~
Yeah, because people will totally use it⸮
Yeah, because people will totally use it :p

Pick one :)

FiB3R said,

Yeah, because people will "totally" use it.
Yeah, because people will totally use it.~
Yeah, because people will totally use it⸮
Yeah, because people will totally use it :p

Pick one :)

/s
(!?)

I dunno, I've seen several "Tony Stewart is retiring" articles ever since his accident, and people believe them until I (or someone like me) point out that the site they got the so-called news item from is a SATIRE site.