Satirical news site The Onion has a reputation for headlines that are almost believable, yet clearly fake to any with a modicum of common sense. Sadly, even a modicum seems difficult to summon for certain sections of the Facebook community, with the social media giant admitting to testing a “Satire” tag for articles invented for comedy purposes.
Sam Machkovech over Ars Technica recently noticed that some stories in the “Related” section of his feed were prefixed with “[Satire]”. In Machkovech’s case, pieces sourced from The Onion earned the tag while Clickhole, Onion Inc’s parody of Buzzfeed, got through unscathed.
The tagging is somewhat inconsistent however, with Machkovech noting that articles from The Onion posted by friends and the site’s own Facebook page appear tag-free. When approached for comment, a spokesperson from Facebook admitted that it’s been trying the tag out for about a month and it isn’t limited to stories from The Onion:
“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.”
There’s no shame in being gotcha’d once by a satire piece — you learn your lesson and move on. But you have to wonder about those who find themselves caught out on a consistent basis, so much so they feel the need to have these articles pointed out.