Facebook tags the Onion 'satire' in news feeds

The Onion site Articles from satirical websites such as the Onion have been mistaken for real news stories

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Facebook is testing a new feature that warns users of satirical content posted from sites like the Onion.

Stories posted in users' feeds are being tagged as "[Satire]" in an apparent move to prevent them being mistaken for real news stories.

Satirical stories have provoked confusion and angry comments from some social media users.

Facebook told the BBC that feedback from users has highlighted the need for the feature.

"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 spokesman said in a statement.

"This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units."

It is not clear how many satirical sites will have their content tagged in this way, or whether the trial will be rolled out permanently across the site.

Sites like the Onion in the US and the Daily Mash in the UK publish satirical news stories that mimic mainstream media and often reflect the current news agenda.

But they are often mistaken as real news stories by social network users and even professional news organisations.

An article titled "Tips for being an unarmed black teen", published in response to the recent police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, provoked some angry responses from Facebook users.

A website, Literally Unbelievable, catalogues incidents where satirical articles have been misunderstood.

Last year, the Washington Post was fooled into erroneously reporting that former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was set to join the al-Jazeera news network - a story written by satirical site the Daily Currant.

Meanwhile in 2012, a Chinese newspaper was ridiculed for reporting an Onion article that jokingly named North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as the "sexiest man alive".

Facebook has faced recent criticism of the management of its news feed feature.

In June it emerged that it had manipulated the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users to see how they would respond to emotionally positive or negative posts.

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