Photo: Courtesy of Facebook.
Transparency has never been one of Facebook's strengths. So, in an attempt to be more crystal clear, the social media site is testing a new feature to designate satirical content from traditional reporting. Think: The Onion versus the Associated Press. The tag would mark "satire" next to related articles that pop up on your feed.
A Facebook representative told Mashable the idea came from user suggestions. "We received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units," says the rep. You can probably think of that friend who posted about new, miraculous legislation that will clear all recent graduates of student loans — only to click through and find it's a poke-fun at millennials who don't want to repay their debts. The new tagging system would essentially be marking this kind of content as "not real" — much like the way "sponsored" posts on your feed denote paid promotion.
Something about this feels a bit unsettling, though. Sure, there are definitely some gullible or confused users out there who are fooled by headlines intended to be jokes. But, in general, it seems Zuckerberg and co. aren't giving readers enough credit. The point of satire is to subtly, cleverly critique the world around you. When you call it out, it kind of ruins satire as an art form. And, why does Facebook decide what counts as satire? How, for example, will Clickhole posts be categorized? When you associate satire with faux journalism, biased reporting can get more credibility than a smart, humorous take on a real news item.