Home Internet Facebook is beta testing satire tag for fictional newspapers

Facebook is beta testing satire tag for fictional newspapers

Facebook, like all other social media sites, is always up to something, but the company’s latest test will give you nothing short of a good laugh.

Facebook is now adding a “satire” tag to posts that report funny stories that aren’t true, and the test has been verified for a satirical site such as The Onion.

Some may ponder why Facebook would do such a thing, particularly if the best part of the satire is that people seem to believe it’s true, but the company likely wants to prevent the same response that it discovered when the algorithm deception on 700,000 users became public recently. To add to that would be to say that there are some stories that seem unlikely, although it’s often hard to decipher the fact from fiction. If you’ve ever heard of the Washington Post’s report on Sarah Palin joining the Al-Jazeera network, Stephen Colbert’s report on the Tacocopter, or a daily prank site known as The Daily Current, you’ll understand that prank news is a booming business (unfortunately).

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So far, Facebook has only gone so far as to verify the new satire label and its use for prank sites: “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,” said a Facebook representative.

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Interestingly enough, only posts from The Onion are bearing the “satire” label at the moment, and only after you return to the browser will you see a “related articles” list that bears the label. The original post that moved you to click on the URL won’t bear the “satire” label, but Facebook will likely improve this feature – if it becomes useful to Facebook users. The feature has been in testing for a month now, and we don’t know how much longer Facebook will conduct testing on the feature until it decides to release it to the Facebook user base.

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It’s a good measure to prevent reporters and journalists from running wild with cleverly-concocted hoax stories, but what is even more laughable is that fake news sites are allowed to continue to provide publication to fictional events.

Deidre Richardson is a tech enthusiast who loves to cover the latest news on smartphones, tablets, and mobile gadgets. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A, History/Music), you can always find her rocking her Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and LG Nexus 5 on a regular basis.


  1. If journalists would check their facts and actually do their jobs instead of relying on social media, this tag would be unecessary. I also like the touch of satire in this article hating on satircal news.

  2. “… but what is even more laughable is that fake news sites are allowed to continue to provide publication to fictional events.” Ms Richardson, may I point out the freedom of speech and press amendment to the United States Constitution?

    The tag seems necessary to FB because…… Stupid. Critical thinking (absent in this article) is waning and will soon be replaced by being told what to think and how not to make a fool of oneself.

    Mental quick-draw and presumptuous assumptions are the fodder for satire.

  3. Actually, Doctor Greybeard, you’re the one whose comment lacks critical thinking.

    First off, you don’t understand that fact and fiction are polar opposites. There is no in-between called satire that can exist. It’s like saying that the temperature outside can be both hot and cold at the same time. Either the events happened or they didn’t; if they didn’t happen, then not even the US Constitution protects that; rather, if Sarah Palin, for example, didn’t join the Al-Jazeera network, then the satire published about the event is libelous slander — plain and simple.

    May I suggest in the future that you approach commenting in a more respectful way with future writers. You don’t have to agree with what the writer says, but you’re out of bounds to deprive the writer of her right to disagree with satire as a news genre.

    • perhaps you should review the court cases that have come up involving the first ammendment and satire. It does indeed protect parody and satire. Writing a story that Sarah Palin joined Al-Jazeera is not libel (it would never be slander, it’s a piece of writing) ; a) it is clearly not true, b) Palin would have to prove that her career was negatively impacted (defamation) by the “libel” c) legal precedent places a much a larger leeway on mocking of public figures.


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