Facebook Attempts to Teach Its Users To Recognize Satire - With A "Satire" Tag
Monday, August 18, 2014 - 10:17 AM
The old "The-Onion-being-mistaken-as-real-news" rubric is now so common at this point as to be mundane. In fact, the website "literally unbelievable" exists solely catalog unsuspecting Facebookers falling for The Onion's headlines. And The Onion is no longer the only site that traffics in parody that gets passed off as real news, it's just the best known, and most clearly satirical. Sites like The Daily Currant and The National Report - both less clearly satire and significantly less funny than The Onion - regularly get picked up as real news as well. Facebook is running a test on some users where it attempts to more clearly demarcate articles from The Onion as satire.
Via Ars Technica:
[A Facebook Spokesperson said] "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." That test has been ongoing for over a month, and while we were told other satirical sites' links have received the same tags, we were not given a list of those sites. Our question about whether the tag would ever appear in other places on Facebook remained unanswered.
I would love to see this applied across social media. It would severely limit the amount of times per month I have to tell someone on Facebook that The Borowitz Report isn't actually news. I imagine that if people are told on social media what satire looks like, they will be more likely to spot it in other contexts, and will be less likely to share it as fact. Then again, if people can fall for the "Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered," this may just be a hopeless cause.