Opinion: Facebook Taking the Fun Out of Satirical Articles With “Satire” Tag

Opinion: Facebook Taking the Fun Out of Satirical Articles With "Satire" Tag

Apparently Facebook’s crack team of developers have observed that a significant chunk of their users have a hard time spotting satirical articles from actual news items. As a result of this, Facebook is testing a new satire tag for these particular articles.

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According to Facebook, the tag came about as a result of users wanting a way to identify satirical articles in their feed—because the title isn’t indication enough. So far the test has been ongoing for a month.

The tag will pop up with “related articles” after checking out an article and will be identified by “Satire” in brackets. In testing the satire tag on several computers, Ars Technica has pointed out that the tag in its current form is a bit inconsistent and doesn’t catch other satire sites.

I’m not a fan of the tag at all. Having to tell someone that something is fake news or not to be taken for serious informational consumption pretty much kills the joke. As a matter of fact, having to tell someone that something is a joke—especially before they hear or read it—defeats the purpose of a joke. It’s meant to be told or read and for the person getting the joke to think about it. The joke has to hit the listener or reader.

Plus one of the bright points of well written satire-based articles is that they could easily pass for actual news articles. There’s something humorous not just about the article itself, but people taking it and running with it as fact…even with its obviously questionable title to start with. An article such as “Going-Out-Of-Business Sign Thanks Neighborhood For 3 Months Of No Support Whatsoever” wouldn’t need a “satire” tag—unless there was an outbreak of writers with news agencies getting local news items and just wanted to have fun with the title.

A title such as the above mentioned from a source such as The Onion or Kayfabe News would get an eye roll seeing the satire bracket. Not only that, but “Oh really?” would punctuate the eye roll.

A satire tag shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying comedic fake news on Facebook, but for those of us who enjoy seeing the unexpected yet somewhat related piece of satire mixed in with their news, it might be better to avoid news on Facebook altogether. On the other hand—and to paraphrase several commenters elsewhere—if people couldn’t tell an article was satire to begin with, what difference would a “satire” tag make anyway?

SOURCE: Ars Technica


Starting with Kabir News in 2013, James has focused on tech, gaming, and entertainment. When not writing, he enjoys catching up on sci-fi and horror shows and comics. He can be followed on Twitter @MetalSwift.

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