In a far distant world which had over 7 billion population, more than 1/7 of the people were considered to be inferior and less smart than their fellows.
“Let’s help them,” the smarter ones suggested. “Those poor souls need to be protected. This world is already contaminated by false news and fake stories, and we can’t let the innocent minds be poisoned.” Thus the “white knight” was born with a cause to detect and quarantine the hazardous data.
While the above story is simply fictional, perhaps the Facebook team has had a similar vision. Recently, the social network giant, which has more than 1.2 billion users, has been testing a tag called “Satire”. Whenever a story from Facebook’s assorted collection of fake-news sites appears in the “related links” section in the News Feed, it will be marked with a warning sign [Satire]. Just like food allergen labelling, it is the hope of Facebook that the innocent minds who have satire allergy will be protected from the harm of peanuts and, The Onion. And according to a report from Washington Post, The Onion is not the only one that is being hit. The Daily Currant, The News Nerd and Empire News, together with a few other bad boys, are all on the black list.
But the real problem behind the satire tag experiment is, as stated in the post by Arwa Mahdawi on The Guardian, it’s making life “easier for us all” by saving us time from thinking. Since when users – even journalists – have blindly believed in everything they read on Facebook? Has everybody become too lazy to confirm the credibility of the news? Freaking out at every single piece of article or story on the internet is, to me, an implication of insufficient proper judgement. And even if the satire tag is officially launched, what then? Will Facebook release similar tags for information from governments, authorities and “reliable sources”? Call me sceptical but I guess no luck on this. The probability will be higher for stuff from BuzzFeed to be labelled as “time waster” or “parents beware”.
Now here’s the question: while Facebook condemns certain websites to be satirical, is Facebook itself trustworthy enough to do so? Perhaps it could use a tag that reads [Proceed at your own expense] too, no?