Facebook hopes tiny labels on posts will stop users confusing satire with reality

Facebook is adding additional labels to posts from Pages that appear in users’ News Feeds in a bid to reduce confusion about their origin. These labels will include “public official,” “fan page,” and “satire page.” The company says it’s already started testing the deployment of these labels in the US, and will gradually add them to more posts.

Facebook hasn’t offered any explanation as to why it’s adding these labels, but identifying satire seems particularly important. Take a look at the social shares for any news articles written by well-known satirical sites like The Onion or The Babylon Bee and you’ll find plenty of people taking these stories at face value. In such a context these posts are essentially a type of misinformation, even if their creators did not intend this. Even high profile figures like former president Donald Trump have mistaken these stories for real reports.

This isn’t the first time the social network giant has tried to make the context of posts in the News Feed clearer. In June last year it began labeling media outlets which are “wholly or partially under the editorial control of their government.” Such outlets need labels, argued Facebook, because “they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government.”

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