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).
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.
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.
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.