One of the stories that hit the media was Facebook beginning to mark third party and promoted posts as “satire” when possible. This has led to a discussion about the prevalence of news stories, and viral stories online, that take off without anyone checking to see if they are based in fact. While sites like “The Onion” strive for satire, trying to understand where the other stories come from can help shape how social media is used.
The viral video as a marketing tool
Not that long ago there was a viral video that went around about an entitled teenager breaking down because her father brought her a red Saab for her 16th birthday instead of the blue one she wanted. The Internet stormed about her entitlement and the state of the younger generations for weeks. There were follow-up videos from her, and she defended herself on social media for her reactions. It all came to the point where she decided to sell the car she had been given for $9.99. This was followed by her next post that said that a better deal for $9.99 was to order from Dominos. The whole video and story was staged as part of a viral marketing campaign for the $9.99 deal from Dominos. It got attention, but it also got a lot of people believing something about the world that may or may not be true.
What are the ethics of satire?
Many people laud Facebook for labeling satirical news posts, but some people think that it ruins the purpose of the satire. The problem is that there is so much face-value acceptance of anything posted on the Internet as being real that satire may not be able to work in the same way online as it does off. This brings up an ethical dilemma about just how responsible people who post satirical news stories are for the damage they may be causing.
What damage can satire cause?
Much like sarcasm, satire can cause a great deal of emotional damage. Online, it can also promote financial damage too. Stories that aren’t understood as satire can lead to people donating money to non-existent causes, or withholding donations from real organizations based on a viral story that is not true. Satire online, especially as a viral marketing campaign, has to be planned out well to provide for a way to manage backlash before it happens.