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Facebook testing 'satire' tag for parody news in the feed

The social network tries to ease confusion between real news and joke news that shows up in users' feeds.

Parody news site The Onion is sometimes confused as real news on users' Facebook feeds. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

The top story on parody news site The Onion on Monday was titled "Area Facebook User Incredibly Stupid." It was a spoof story about a Facebooker that appears "frequently frustrated" but is really just "incredibly stupid."

While any reader on The Onion site would know this story was a joke, apparently some Facebook users are confused by real news and satire when such stories appear on their News Feeds. It's become so much of a problem that Facebook revealed Monday it's testing a "satire" tag for articles from parody news sites.

"We are running a small test which shows the text '[Satire]' in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed," a Facebook spokesperson told the BBC. "This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units."

Apparently, a handful of parody stories have brought on angry comments from Facebook users who weren't aware the articles were satire, according to the BBC.

For example, an Onion article titled "Tips For Being An Unarmed Black Teen," which published after a Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old last week, got 233 comments on Facebook in two days. Much of the response was critical of the article and many users were seemingly unaware it was meant to be satire.

It's unclear which parody news sites Facebook is targeting or if it will roll out the tag to all of its users on a permanent basis. CNET contacted Facebook for comment and we'll update the story when we have more information.