No kidding

A Facebook screengrab featuring reaction to the new [satire] tag

A Facebook screengrab featuring reaction to the new [satire] tag

First published in Internet

A NEW Facebook trial is tagging stories on users’ news feeds that have come from satirical American news site the Onion, as [satire].

“We are running a small test,” Facebook said in a statement to tech news site Ars Technica, “because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others.”

But this small sample is clearly more farreaching than they’re letting on, because when I last checked my Facebook feed, I saw the squarebracketed label on Onion articles which had appeared under a story about the trial.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the voice of reason has spoken up in defence of gullible people. As far back as the 1580s, printer Henry Denham thought that a backwards question mark should be used at the end of a sentence to denote a rhetorical question, and we all know how well that caught on don’t we? (It faded into obscurity in the 17th Century).

Then in 2010, a couple of geniuses launched the SarcMark, a curly punctuation mark that is now widely used on the Internet to signify sarcasm.

Oh wait, no it isn’t. It too failed to take off and SarcMark.com now sits forlornly, a monument to the so-called lowest form of wit.

Let’s hope Facebook takes heed and swiftly ditches the satire signpost. Because if they don’t, it might mean the end is nigh both for common sense, and for LiterallyUnbelievable.org, the blog dedicated to chronicling the hilarious comments that ensue when social media users take comedy content literally.

There was the person who marvelled: “It’s hard to believe because Dick van Dyke is so likeable”

when the Onion “revealed” that the Diagnosis Murder actor had confessed to being a serial killer. Or the time when the site reported on new “nosephones” from Sony that deliver smells instead of sounds. “You would look like a complete idiot,” scoffed one complete idiot who believed the story.

Cutting off the lifeblood of such a hallowed Internet institution would be a tragedy. And when I say that, I am not joking.

ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

IT was revealed in June that complaints relating to social media make up half the calls police deal with on a daily basis, but new reports now suggest that some officers are actually part of the problem. Freedom of Information requests by the Press Association found that there have been 828 cases of police officers investigated for breaching social media guidelines since 2009, including posting racist or homophobic comments, posing for photos with weapons and asking members of the public to add them on Facebook. New guidelines have now been launched and the College of Policing insists that social media remains a “really useful way of us talking to the people that we serve”.

CLASSIFIED CONTENT

THE Government has announced a new measure to prevent youngsters viewing unsuitable content online by putting age ratings on music videos.

So far only three UK major labels, Sony, Warner and Universal, have signed up for the pilot, which will begin in October, run by the British Recorded Music Industry, BPI. The labels will voluntarily provide content which will then be classified as suitable for 12, 15 or 18 and above. Ratings will only apply to British artists, so notorious nudity fanatics like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus won’t be affected, but the BPI hopes other countries might follow their lead.

DO NOT DISTURB

YOU know that exciting moment at a concert when the house lights go down, and the venue stays lit by the glow of a thousand mobile phone screens? A new app has launched and, if it’s successful, will act as an audience-wide iPhone dimmer switch.

Kimd (kimd.cc) makes your phone’s luminosity drop to ten per cent and displays a virtual veil over the screen, leaving just enough visibility to take photos and videos without disturbing fellow audience members.

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