Facebook To Ruin Our Good Time With 'Satire' Disclaimer; The Onion Responds With Satire

from the peeling-away-the-layers dept

Satire: some people just don't get it. More specifically, some folks out there don't have the capacity to read what is an obviously satirical news piece and/or headline and recognize it as such. You all know what I'm talking about: you jump on Facebook and see an article shared by a "friend" that contains the headline, "Barack Obama Admits To Being A Muslim Terrorist Puppy-Puncher" and the accompanying "I told you so!" commentary from your friend sends you into a snigger as you see that it's a link to The Onion, Clickhole, or Infowars. You know, sites that are clearly filled with joke articles that nobody in their right minds would believe. This is one of the great joys of Facebook and social media in general: watching your friends fall for bullshit. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's what Facebook is for.

But Facebook doesn't agree, apparently, as the site is now experimenting with tagging links from these kinds of sites with a "satire" notification.

We can only assume this was implemented as a reaction to users believing that Onion links are nonfiction reports (you can lose hours flipping through Literally Unbelievable, a site that catalogs such boneheaded moments), but we're not sure what compelled Facebook to go so far as to assert editorial control. What's more confusing is this limited implementation, which itself takes a while to explain. Original posts on friends' feeds and The Onion's official Facebook page don't come with a tag. If users save the article to a read-later list, the tag will vanish as well. And other satiric sites, particularly The Onion's newest sibling site, Buzzfeed-spoof Clickhole, are immune to the tag.
Forget confusing, this is yet another inch down the slippery slope in the war on humor and me-getting-to-make-fun-of-people, and I won't stand for it, damn it. People I haven't seen since high school getting fooled by The Onion has been one of the great pleasures in my life and it's just not right for Facebook to chip away at that fun just because it appears to have finally acknowledged that its users are, by and large, idiots.

For what it's worth, The Onion itself appears to concur with this assessment in an article reacting to Facebook's move.
DOYLESTOWN, PA—Describing him as frequently frustrated and overwhelmed, sources confirmed Monday that local Facebook user Michael Huffman is incredibly stupid. “I need stuff easy,” said the absolute dipshit, adding that he finds many things confusing, and that those things must be changed so that they make sense to him. “I like looking at things on Facebook, but I don’t understand a lot. Help, please.” At press time, someone had reportedly fixed everything for the goddamn imbecile.
Funny, but here's an idea. Instead of ruining everyone's righteous good time by tagging satire articles for people, how about instead we work on some kind of integration between Facebook and Snopes? That would be twice as useful and none of the nonsense I regularly combat with Snopes on Facebook makes me laugh, so no harm no foul. Guys? Yes?


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  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:27pm

    The Palin Test

    A new immigrant, faced with the Colbert Report and the Sarah Palin channel, might need a bit of help determining which is satire.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:30pm

    This is messed up.
    My wife's mother uses Facebook as her number one news source.

    My wife and I need some comedy relief when her mother blurts out.."Oh my God! You're not going to believe this......"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:31pm

    why the hell do people keep using this crock of shit? it introduces something to make it's own bits better almost daily while taking away something from the people. i am of the opinion that there is a lot of collusion between it and the NSA, especially now that Snowden has made us aware of what has been/is going on!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Scote, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:37pm

    What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

    I really don't see the issue. Satire is fun, but it can also be harmful when people take it seriously, and while there is a certain Schadenfreude in watching other people mistake satire for real news, I don't see that as sufficient reason to not label satire as satire.

    There is nothing wrong with clearly labeling something as what it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:44pm

      Re: What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

      I don't think it's a matter of something being "wrong" about doing so. It's just that it makes linking to the satire a lot less enjoyable.

      The main fun on The Onion is that it intentionally mimics news reporting, but is so outlandish that only total idiots can mistake it for the real thing. Adding a satire tag makes it look less like news reporting, undercutting the whole point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 3:48pm

        Re: Re: What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

        For an older example of this, see Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"

        He almost served time for that one, once people found out who wrote it. You see, one of the members of parliament thought his proposal was such a good idea, he brought it to the floor....

        Imagine if he'd put "this is satire" in small print at the bottom of the leaflets. Some people would still have got a good laugh, but it wouldn't have had the same effect on the politics of the time.

        The fact that people CAN be fooled by things that should appear outlandish is part of the point of this flavor of satire. I presume that FB's idea of only tagging it in the most potentially damaging links was their attempt at a nod at this.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 6:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

          one of the members of parliament thought his proposal was such a good idea, he brought it to the floor....

          Citation needed. A quick web search yielded no evidence for this claim.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:50pm

      Re: What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

      Because then everything that's satire that doesn't get labeled as satire will:

      1) Have people complaining that it wasn't labeled as satire.
      2) Have people insisting it's true because it wasn't labeled as satire.
      3) Have people insisting that it shouldn't be protected as satire because it wasn't labeled as satire.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:51pm

      Re: What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

      The Onion itself labels itself as satire. What Facebook is doing is inserting itself into a process and editorializing where it shouldn't.

      It's also not really useful to anyone who isn't an idiot. Better labels would be, "click-bait" for Buzzfeed links, "malicious link" for Fark or Reddit articles, and "spyware warning" for any link internal to Facebook's own network.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:53pm

      Re: What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

      The issues I take are:

      1) It's none of Facebook's business what I link to, and they shouldn't be inserting their own opinions into the links I share with friends. Yes, even on their own site. They have every legal right to do so, but no good reason. Unless it violates the TOS, they should butt out.

      2) The Onion is not 100% satire. They do have a serious section. I assume that Facebook will not know the difference, and will therefore be marking serious articles as satire.

      3) By marking certain links as satire, it implies that links without that mark are NOT satire.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      BOLLOCKS, 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:30pm

      Re: What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

      I clearly label you as 'An Idiot' :-)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 2:21pm

      Re: What is wrong with accurately labeling satire as such?

      "There is nothing wrong with clearly labeling something as what it is."

      Let's take that to the extreme. Why do I have to label all of my speech? Whose rules do I follow to label it? Am I restricted from being funny or political without first categorizing what I say?

      Why isn't it the responsibility of the person reading it to understand it and to properly hear it? Look at books. They don't necessarily specifically tell you how to read the words, they group them in a way for people to understand them. Another one is movies based on a real story. Do we need to add a tag to each scene that isn't what exactly really happened?

      I mean it doesn't get annoying when we label our speech or anything:

      #annoying#labelmyspeech#hollywoodliberties#extreme#books#readers#bookreaders#toomanylabels# satire#facebooksucks#categories#pointmade#done

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    got_runs? (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:44pm

    Disclaimer [satire]

    Ching-Chong Ding-Dong

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:48pm

    This is gonna end well...

    What's more confusing is this limited implementation, which itself takes a while to explain. Original posts on friends' feeds and The Onion's official Facebook page don't come with a tag. If users save the article to a read-later list, the tag will vanish as well. And other satiric sites, particularly The Onion's newest sibling site, Buzzfeed-spoof Clickhole, are immune to the tag.
    Oh, this will end well.

    "Dude, it's a fake story."

    "It can't be - Facebook tells you when it's fake, and there's no tag!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hij (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:49pm

    Office of self referential sarcasm

    I am pretty sure this is all a joke. It is a satirical piece of news that was put out by Facebook to demonstrate that many people cannot understand satire. Hence the need...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:50pm

    Unsurprising, really

    Facebook was founded and is run by complete assholes, so what else would you expect?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:55pm

    I Can't Believe This Post I Saw on Techdirt

    A brave man completely eviscerates the need for mass surveillance

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gwiz (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:57pm

    ...a link to The Onion, Clickhole, or Infowars. You know, sites that are clearly filled with joke articles that nobody in their right minds would believe.

    Too funny DH!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Oneoff, 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:59pm

    Not sure if reference to infowars was satirical, or satirical-satirical...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nina Paley (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 12:59pm

    Facebook-Snopes

    how about instead we work on some kind of integration between Facebook and Snopes?

    That is a really good idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris Meadows (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:06pm

    It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

    Why does everyone fall into assuming that Facebook thinks most users are too stupid to discern that an Onion article is satire?

    That's not what it's about.

    In the last year or so, a new brand of "satire" site (I quotate "satire" because it's not clear to me that they really deserve to be in that category) has sprung up that specializes in writing outrageous stories that are just plausible enough to be believable.

    They give themselves names that aren't obviously satirical ("National Report," I'm looking at you), and do pretty much everything they can to hide the fact that they're satire. As nearly as anyone not intimately familiar with the site can tell, they're real news.

    Their whole purpose is trolling people to get outraged and send their real-looking fake news stories viral, so they can make a fortune on ad revenue. (Say what you will about "You won't believe what happened next!" clickbait sites like Buzzfeed, at least they aren't trying to con their readership.)

    Most recently, we saw this in a National Report fake story about a cop who got in an argument with a breastfeeding woman and ended up killing her baby. When people realized it was fake and got upset, the paper's editor was all, "Hey, don't hate on us, hate on the real cops who are nasty enough that you found this ridiculous story believable in the first place."

    It would be more convincing if it weren't that his site and others like it built their whole business model on tricking and outraging people.

    This kind of thing is why Facebook users actually asked Facebook to make it easier to distinguish satire articles. And why, thus, Facebook is doing it.

    And thank goodness they are, at last. If I don't ever have to deal with another manufactured-outrage fake news story in my friend feed, it will be too soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:17pm

      Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

      If you need help figuring out that an article about a cop killing a baby is farcical, then yes, that satire definitely raises a good point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Chris Meadows (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:22pm

        Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

        As many dogs and people as they've been killing lately? It looked all too plausible. Even I thought it was real until I clicked through to the editor's defense.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          orbitalinsertion (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 9:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

          Nothing like doing that or otherwise confirming a story, or getting further information elsewhere.

          But in a world where people can't look up the definition of CDN...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 20 Aug 2014 @ 9:22am

        Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

        How about a cop throwing a flashbang at a baby in a crib and blasting its chest cavity open? That actually happened fairly recently. If your curious the baby survived the gaping hole in its chest.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Cowherd, 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:57pm

      Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

      Such articles should be considered a learning opportunity about critical thinking. Don't believe everything you read and so on.

      Facebook tagging some satire articles so people can avoid thinking for themselves only makes the rest of them more effective, so expect to see more people falling for fake news in the future.

      There is no substitute for independent thought.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 2:25pm

      Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

      "This kind of thing is why Facebook users actually asked Facebook to make it easier to distinguish satire articles. And why, thus, Facebook is doing it."

      Are you asserting that most Facebook users wanted this? So you're confirming that most Facebook users are idiots?

      Not surprised, really.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 5:22pm

      Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

      "It would be more convincing if it weren't that his site and others like it built their whole business model on tricking and outraging people."

      Why stop there? You should demand that that Fox News be flagged as distortion. The courts agree - make it so!
      ref:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Akre

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 20 Aug 2014 @ 9:24am

        Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

        Funny thing Fox is not allowed to set up a Canadian version of itself because our media laws don't allow for outright lying about the news.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 20 Aug 2014 @ 11:00am

          Re: Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

          If only we did that here in the US. Lying in news reports as well as in advertising should be illegal. (Technically, lying in advertising is illegal, but the definition of "lying" allows intentional deception, and the law is rarely enforced anyway.)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Gwiz (profile), 20 Aug 2014 @ 11:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

            If only we did that here in the US.


            According to urban legend, Fox News in the US was initially set up as an "entertainment" outlet as opposed to a "news" outlet to avoid those pesky rules news organizations operate under.

            I have no idea if this is true or not myself.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 20 Aug 2014 @ 12:42pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

              Not true. Also, not necessary. There is no special class called "news outlets" that have a higher legal standard. Besides, the courts have ruled that news organizations have no legal requirement to be truthful. That court case was not with Fox News itself, but an actual TV newsroom (for a Fox affiliate) in Florida.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:17pm

    The war against stupid has already been fought many times


    Stupid won

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:29pm

    so wait- is infowars really satire? or just loony extreamist? Or? I haven't heard anything from/about that site in many years.

    iirc at one point I figured they where a disinformation campaign- surrounding the occasional truth by so much bullshit that it appears to be bullshit by association.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:54pm

      Re:

      They're just playing extremist to make cash off of loonies. What I really hate is that they put some of our stuff on their site. Not that I have a problem with people sharing our shit, of course, it's just that they suck. Hard.

      http://www.infowars.com/senators-goad-doj-into-more-pointless-online-gambling-takedowns/

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 8:11pm

        Re: Re:

        If you make it onto infowars, you need to consider that perhaps your material is just a little too extremist in itself. Having them agree and support you shows pretty much how far off the mainstream map you are.

        I wonder if Facebook will start marking Techdirt articles (such as this one) as satire?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2014 @ 6:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I wouldn't say Alex Jones is extremist - he's a nutbag.

          So, if "you make it onto infowars" perhaps it is because a nutbag wants to use your material - nothing more.

          Does Alex Jones agree with and support everything that is found on that site? I doubt it. Why would you imply this is the case? Oh, I see, it was a simple attempt at equating TD with extremism. How lame.

          If FB satire labeling becomes widely accepted, used and relied upon - it most likely will result in a change to the definition of the word "satire". This "literally" could happen.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      I used to read Infowars (until it got too boring), and in my opinion they're absolutely satirical. Whether they intend to be or not.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 5:26pm

        Re: Re:

        I thought they were nutbag conspiracy types, or maybe they are satirizing other conspiracy nutbags. Whoa - inception

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 1:53pm

    Snopes

    Snopes? You're going to trust them? The couple the runs Snopes also runs a network of spam servers that start many of those forwarded stories in the first place, always insuring they'll have a business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 2:09pm

    Great, now how are we supposed to tell who shouldn't be allowed to reproduce now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 2:15pm

    Cops [trying to] kill babies

    Swat team throws a grenade into a crib, and is now announcing they bear no responsibilities for hospital bills.

    quote from satire site (Atlanta Constitution Journal:): "Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as "Baby Boo Boo," spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team's flash grenade exploded near his face."

    Hahaha, caught you. Cops would never throw a grenade into a crib.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2014 @ 4:06am

      Re: Cops [trying to] kill babies

      Not on purpose, but only because they'd miss if they tried.

      Anyway, I thought cops knew that the proper use of flash-bangs is raiding suspected meth kitchens.







      (No, I'm not joking, some cops really did that a couple of years back, entirely forgetting that meth labs blow up easily. Unfortunately, instead of winning himself a Darwin Award, the grenade landed on a young girl's bed. IIRC the cop's actions were determined to be sufficiently moronic to override the usual immunity.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    connermac725 (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 2:40pm

    Facebook

    Facebook is too much like the weekly world news or the national inquirer not too mention it tracks ALL of your browsing even after you log out

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 5:46pm

      Re: Facebook

      Use a different instance of your fav browswer, or better yet - a different user name.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        ryuugami, 20 Aug 2014 @ 1:48am

        Re: Re: Facebook

        If I ever make a facebook account (some academic organizations use facebook for announcements...), I'd access it only through a sandboxed browser inside a virtual machine. Too paranoid? I say, not paranoid enough.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    decrement (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 4:22pm

    Detecting Sarcasm

    Note that the US Secret Service is seeking development of social media analytics software capable of detecting sarcasm online.

    Leveraging Facebooks user base to develop the ability to detect Satire is a convenient stepping-stone toward this direction.

    It also feels a lot like rolling all Facebook accounts into a research project without the ability to opt-out.

    Source:
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/06/us-secret-service-wants-software-to-detect-sarcasm-on-soc ial-media/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2014 @ 5:52pm

    Forget confusing, this is yet another inch down the slippery slope in the war on humor and me-getting-to-make-fun-of-people, and I won't stand for it, damn it.

    People taking it seriously is the best part. What I love best about The Mad Revisionist is the comments from people who thought the author was serious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 19 Aug 2014 @ 6:00pm

    The sarcasm gene

    I think that most people in positions of authority (corporate wonks, politicians, judges, police, et al) are required to excise their sarcasm gene when they are elected/appointed/gain their high state of idiocy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jim Ardis, 20 Aug 2014 @ 6:43am

    About. Fucking. Time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2014 @ 7:10am

    Facebook is used to spy on people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 20 Aug 2014 @ 3:15pm

    How about "this story is BS" tag?

    How about a tag that says "this is possible bs story" which would be any outlandish story (usually designed specifically to go viral) and that is either unsourced or comes from an unreliable or anonymous source.

    Cracked.com has plenty of these... unfortunately their explanations come out long after the story has made its way around Facebook. Here are two examples in their long-running series.
    http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/6-bs-stories-that-fooled-you-facebook-bear-hates-bieber/
    ht tp://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/6-b.s.-stories-that-fooled-everyone-facebook-8514/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 21 Aug 2014 @ 8:37am

      Re: How about "this story is BS" tag?

      "How about a tag that says "this is possible bs story" which would be any outlandish story (usually designed specifically to go viral) and that is either unsourced or comes from an unreliable or anonymous source."

      Isn't this just a worse version of the [satire] tag?

      Besides, how would this work? I note that all of the stories in those Cracked lists were published by what most people consider to be "reliable" sources, so they wouldn't have received your "BS" tag anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2014 @ 1:18pm

    This is sad. People have gotten too stupid to even recognize sarcasm when they see it. Just something else getting dumbed down with the rest of us. Smart phones, dumb ass people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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