In recent weeks, Facebook has been testing the addition of a new [SATIRE] tag for headlines from satirical websites, designed to help people distinguish real news from fake stories. It’s currently being applied to both actual satire, like The Onion and Clickhole, as well as viral hoax sites like the Daily Currant and the National Report.
That’s all well and good, but it suggests that a lot of folks are struggling to tell the difference between news, satire, and fake “satire”—a valuable media literacy skill. In the interest of ‘net betterment, here are the questions to ask to figure out what’s satire... and what’s "satire."
Is it from The Onion?
Let's start easy. Recognizing satire from The Onion should be easy as recognizing a dog: you ask yourself, “Hey, is that a dog?” And if it's a dog, you say to yourself, “Yeah, sure is.” And you smile, because you saw a good thing. That's The Onion.
Verdict: It's satire!
Is it from The New Yorker?
So you've come across a headline that resembles something from The Onion, but it's wordy, cloyingly liberal, and instead of making you laugh, leaves you cold and a little bummed out. And, because it's on The New Yorker, your parents' friend Peg has posted it ("Sarah Palin does it again!") under the delusion that it's real, breaking news from a publication that never covers breaking news. Is it satire?