Can you tell the difference between a real news headline and something invented by the writers of The Onion? Facebook thinks you might need a little help separating actual events from the satirical takes on them and is testing an automatic “satire” tag to label spoof stories on the network.
The tweak was first spotted by ArsTechnica and can be seen on articles from The Onion. Once you’ve clicked out to a joke story and returned to your news feed, a “satire” tag is added to the link and a selection of other spoof articles are shown as well. If you were unsure whether Standing at work can increase coworkers’ disdain up to 70% or FDA recommends at least 3 servings of foods with word ‘fruit’ on box were genuine stories or not, now you’ll know.
Facebook itself confirmed the move to ArsTechnica: “We are running a small test which shows the text ‘[Satire]’ in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in the news feed,” the company said in a statement. “This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units.”
Facebook says the test has been running for about a month and extends to other sites besides The Onion, though it hasn’t specified what those sites are. It seems strange that the tag only appears once you’ve returned back to Facebook — presumably to add a comment or share the article — but the social network’s algorithms must know best. We’ll have to wait and see whether the satire tags make it into Facebook as an approved feature available to everyone.