[Tragicomedy] Recently, I was taken in by an article linked to in my Facebook feed. The article claimed that a Viking boat had been found on the Mississippi near Memphis, Tennessee. The original source was the World Daily News:
“A group of volunteers cleaning up the shores of the Mississippi river near the biggest city in Tennessee, have stumbled upon the remains of an ancient boat encrusted in mud. A team of archeologists from the University of Memphis that was rapidly called to the site, confirmed that the ship is most certainly a Viking knarr, suggesting the Norse would have pushed their exploration of America a lot further than historians previously thought.” Read more at Snopes.com
A few history groups I follow on Facebook posted the article with all the breathless excitement of school children finding a stash of cookies.
[Romance] I pronounced to my wife that this would be vindication for myself and my friends whose hobby is exploring pre-Columbus trans-Atlantic contact. She agreed. Looking at me adoringly she whispered, “I knew you were right about Columbus not being first. You deserve a reward.”
[Drama] “Wait,” I exclaimed. “Here’s another post saying the World News Daily report is fake. By the way, what’s my reward?”
[Comedy] “Your turn to do the dishes,” she said, walking away to the sound of a comedy rimshot.
It seems Facebook is going to extreme measures to protect a public it deems too gullible to understand satire. Now, any Facebook posts that show up in your personal feed as “related articles” by The Onion, The Daily Currant, National Report, The News Nerd, etc. will be preceded by a [Satire] tag.
“We received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others [i.e., real articles] in these [related news] units,” the Washington Post quoted an anonymous Facebook employee.
[Dejection] Am I the only one who thinks the world just became less fun?
[Cynicism] The fact that some people don’t recognize satire doesn’t mean we should dumb down all satire.
[Helpfulness] Further Reading
An opinion piece at TheGuardian.com, Arwa Mahdawl nails it:
“Satire is dying because the Internet is killing it”
Snopes.com article – Ship of Fools
World News Daily Report USA: Viking Ship Discovered Near Mississippi River. (2014, August 23). Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/usa-viking-ship-discovered-near-mississipi-river
Mahdawi, A. (2014, August 19). Satire is dying because the internet is killing it. Retrieved August 23, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/19/satire-tag-internet-killing-facebook-tag
Dewey, C. (2014, August 19). Facebook “satire” tag could wipe out the Internet’s terrible hoax-news industry. Retrieved August 23, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/08/19/facebook-satire-tag-could-wipe-out-the-internets-terrible-hoax-news-industry