Here’s how it works: If a friend posts an Onion link to his or her Facebook feed, click on it for a laugh. Once you’re done at The Onion and come back to your desktop or laptop browser, Facebook will have generated three related articles in a box directly below whatever you’d clicked on. In the case of an Onion link, that box will usually contain at least one article from the same site, only that article’s headline will begin with the word “satire” in brackets. As of press time, we were able to duplicate this result on three different computers from different accounts, one of which is shown above.
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. Maybe the company still feels bad about how users reacted to its intentional News Feed manipulation from 2012.
We’ve probably all been suckered on occasion by a good satire. One of the best is Duffel Blog, which took me in for days the first time I came across one of their stories. But that’s the part of what makes great satire great.
There are three levels of satire. The first is simple sarcasm, which is saying something outrageous that you don’t believe, in such an obvious manner, that everybody knows you’re kidding. The next higher level of satire is to say something outrageous you don’t mean, in a serious enough manner, that people think you might actually believe it. But the highest level of satire, and the most difficult one to produce, is to say something outrageous, in such a clever way, that people nod their heads in agreement with the outrageous thing.
Discovering you’ve been taken in by great satire produces a momentary but unique emotion — equal parts embarrassment and delight, which even the Germans probably don’t have a word for. Facebook would take away that moment.
image illustration via shutterstock / Brent Hofacker