back to article Tricked by satire? Get all your news from Facebook? You're in luck, dummy

Po-faced Facebook will slap "satire" tags on links shared by its users – to help users distinguish parody pieces from the real news. Flagging up links to send-up sites on Facebook's News Feed will remain an experiment for now, though. The tag only appears in a user's News Feed after they have clicked on, for example, an Onion …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook confessed in a statement that some of its users were a bit thick:

    And I thought Americans didn't understand understatement let alone know how to use it.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Facebook confessed in a statement that some of its users were a bit thick:

      El Reg has had it for years, what does that say about commentards?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Facebook confessed in a statement that some of its users were a bit thick:

        I think it says a lot more about the ones who use it.

  2. frobnicate

    It's only logical...

    ... after decades of using smileys and laugh tracks on TV to identify "humour".

    1. AndrewInIreland

      Re: It's only logical...

      As well as the digusting sounding "rimshot"

    2. BongoJoe

      Re: It's only logical...

      ... after decades of using smileys and laugh tracks on TV to identify "humour".

      Which is invariably wrong.

  3. John H Woods Silver badge

    I can't work out ...

    ... whether this is serious or not

  4. Just Enough

    [satire] I see what you did there

    Did this announcement from Facebook maybe come with a [satire] tag?

    Cos that would be really satirical and clever of them.

    1. MrT

      Re: [satire] I see what you did there

      Especially if it was posted on the T&C pages, particularly if the icon goes near phrases like "Privacy" and "How we protect your information..."

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Rag tag

    > distinguish real news from parody pieces that use ironic exaggeration

    While reading this I thought that maybe FB should introduce a [BS] tag, too. Though there would be plenty more "news" sites that wouldn't need it - as their title tells you that by default.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: Rag tag

      Would you have to stack them if you were making fun of a Fox news story?

  6. Simon Harris
    Paris Hilton

    Couldn't they just....

    show it in a different colour?

    "Some of its users were a bit thick" ----------------------------------------------------->

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not

    Just use the traditional irony emoticon - a space followed by a backspace?

  8. Phil_Evans

    Divide by zero error?

    I've been raging for years about the partitioning of my curiosity that is the news/lifestyle/comedy/suicide section of my Sunday papers. Now 'May contain nuts', 'contents may be hot', 'gamble responsibly'. it just goes on and on. After this debacle will we soon here the patter of little feet as they march to 'put one foot in front of the other' ® ?

  9. Alistair

    tagline says it all

    **Warning** the sum total of intelligence on the planet is a constant. The population is growing.

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    CNN, BBC


    1. cray74

      Re: CNN, BBC

      Actually, I like where you're going with that, Destroy All Monsters. I see some potential for this tagging system. I'd be very amused to see [BS] or [Satire] tags automatically slapped on the products of Fox News and MSNBC. Maybe based on a rule like, "If Politifact gives a news source more than 10% 'pants on fire' ratings in a month, it is automatically labeled [BS.]"

  11. Mike Flugennock

    Anyone else here reminded of...

    The Architect Sketch? about the 03:40 mark.

  12. Socorro

    Gluten-Free comment

    It's nice to see that nothing has changed intelligence-wise from the usenet days when someone would post "I have nude pictures of <some celeb>" and hoards of AOL drones would plead "send it to me". Or when M$ had to do damage control after some wag posted the faux news story that they were buying the Catholic Church.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Gluten-Free comment

      Only now these kind of hoaxes start real wars.

  13. gerryg

    no it isn't


    <funny>this is a joke</funny>


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This prefixal-[Satire] stop-gap will eventually be replaced--when the Internet... of Things matures and becomes more pervasive--by the electr(on)ic equivalent of a slap on the back of the head. To encourage attention.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I Sue?

    I already have this on my website (American political site) There's 30+ satire sites get labelled, it's amazing how much difference it makes. People are incapable of basic fact checking and would get so aggravated over 'Obama has dinner with Aliens!'

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But its funny seeing people worked up about Onion articles

    It is one way to distinguish the morons on your friends list. I'd tag them as such for easy reference if there was support for that, but knowing Facebook they'd probably make your "morons list" public down the road, since like Twitter they believe in sharing everything!

  17. Truth4u

    SATIRE: I love the features on Facebook

    1. davidp231

      Works better in <Sarcasm> tags.

  18. Chris G

    Hmm Seems to me

    If they need to label a piece as satire they may need an explanation in simple words to go with it.

  19. Stevie


    I give it three months, after which the [Satire] tag will be replaced with [Like, Not Serious] and three months after that the [rofl] tag.

  20. veti Silver badge

    I used to underestimate Poe's Law too...

    ... but only last week, I was forcefully reminded just how much of "the internet community" is made up of people who are either 14 years old and don't know anything, or are completely lacking whatever genes are required to recognise "irony" when it beats them over the head.

    (In case you care, here is the story in question. Check the first few pages of comments following. But it won't make a lot of sense if you don't know or care anything about New Zealand politics.)

    Poe's Law. Learn it, love it, live your life accordingly.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: I used to underestimate Poe's Law too...

      I was forcefully reminded just how much of "the internet community" is made up of people who are either 14 years old and don't know anything, or are completely lacking whatever genes are required to recognise "irony" when it beats them over the head

      The whole point of Poe's Law is that it is impossible even for a competent human judge - or indeed any entity - to reliably distinguish satire. It's the opposite of what you're complaining about.

      For example: While a majority of readers correctly determined that the Onion story in question is satire, how many, with no other context, would say the same of this one:

      <quote>Ferguson Cops Once Beat an Innocent Man and Then Charged Him With BLEEDING ON THEIR UNIFORMS</quote>

      Certainly that looks like satire, particularly as it too is directed at the beloved Police Department of Ferguson, Missouri. But it comes from a reputable source and appears to be true. It cites an actual charge sheet and court documents from the subsequent lawsuit filed by the victim1. Change the location to Detroit and it's satire2; keep it in Ferguson and it's just reporting the truth.

      Poe's point was that people were posting satirical treatments of religion to the newsgroup that were indistinguishable from the sincere messages posted by their antagonists. "indistinguishable" is the key here. It has nothing to do with being "14 years old", or with not "know[ing] anything", or with some genetic deficiency.

      Richard Rorty claimed (e.g. in "Trotsky and the Wild Orchids"), contra Plato, that people do not have an innate sense of right and wrong; that we can't simply detect ethical behavior, and have to learn how to evaluate real and hypothetical situations. We could say the same about irony; except we can strengthen the claim because we can prove, through reader-response studies, that there are many texts in which readers cannot, with any significant degree of accuracy, discern the author's intent.3

      1Who'd been arrested on the perfectly reasonable grounds that his name resembles that of some guy with an outstanding warrant.

      2For some value of satire. At any rate, it's not true. I hope.

      3I could go on about how we typically rely on logical and ethical evaluation to decide whether a text is sincere, but I doubt anyone's still reading. I'll just lecture to myself for a bit. Ah, that's good.

  21. Faux Science Slayer

    When Your Opponent Refuses Reason....Resort to Ridicule

    After a year of serious, one sided, rigged 'debate' over the elitist directed AGW FRAUD....

    i started writing Satire....posted at Canada Free Press and even more at my website...

    "Piñata Planet Syndrome"...."Modern Phrenology Society Newsletter"....

    "Hockey Sitckery Doc"...."New ! Amazing ! Wrongco Proxy Crock"....

    BTW...the Onion has the WORST excuse for "satire" i'v ever wasted time reading....

    see: for Satire, Science, History and more !

    1. deadlockvictim

      Re: When Your Opponent Refuses Reason....Resort to Ridicule

      Self praise is no praise?

  22. Shaha Alam

    I find 'satire' news sites are the only credible news sources left

    let's face it, with 'credible' news networks being so skewed and warped from a combination of advertisers, syndicate networks, corporate affiliations, political bias from the owners/directors/editors or simply being brow beaten by the viewership into slanting stories one way or the other, "satirical" news outlets seem to be the only place to get any "realistic" news.

  23. bitten

    I wish life was always that simple

    Take regular news, just add [Satire] et voila!

  24. k9gardner

    Some satire is deliberately misleading (and hence not satire)

    I know on the surface it sounds kind of idiotic that they would have to do this, but there are some sites that - when push comes to shove - will acknowledge themselves to be "satire sites", but their "news stories" are told without the least bit of humor or irony, and their websites do not make any mention anywhere that they are satirical, spoofs, humorous, or anything. They are simply dangerous and deliberate rabble rousers. Not sure what to do about them, I don't even think calling it satire is helpful. Just lies, basically.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. alwarming

      Re: Some satire is deliberately misleading (and hence not satire)

      Sounds like el reg unmasked the target audience...

  25. FBee

    The Daily Show w/Jon Stewart for all your satirically accurate news

    Watch any daily riff and tell me it doesn't make more sense than the "real" news!

  26. Alpha Tony


    Can we get them to apply the tag to any forwarded article from the Daily Mail please?

  27. Triggerfish


    I'll leave this bit of Chris Morris here.

  28. deadlockvictim

    New helpful prefixes for El Reg

    I think only fair that we get more helpful prefixes along the lines mentioned in the article at El Reg.

    Some suggestions:

    [Real actual news]

    [Apple news]

    [Wanton celeb gossip]

    [Gossip about wanton celebs]

    [Salacious gossip]

    [Probably real, actual news but we can't agree]

    [It's really happening, Reg, it's actually happening!! (Scream in frustration)]

    [Apparently satire actually scathing social commentary]

    [News fit for pinko commies]

    [News fit for rightwing bastards]

    [News approved of by the 1%]

    and so on

    In passing I would like to say, that as a teenager, I found the warning labels on CDs and videos very helpful when it came to making purchasing decisions. I never thought I'd approve of the American Moral Majority, but they saved me a lot of time when it came to looking for the sort of stuff that 16 year olds look for.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like