Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage

BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.

A lot of people are saying that The Onion’s series of tweets about a hostage situation in the Capitol building ‘backfired’ or that they were ‘in bad taste’. Capitol police are launching an investigation.

Personally, I thought the whole thing was amazing. I love that they had the balls to say “We’re the fucking Onion, let’s fuck with peoples’ heads.” The whole thing reminded me of the stuff Chris Morris used to do on The Day Today. Like the time John Major punched the Queen. And sure, it took my mother two full episodes of The Day Today before she realised it was satire, but then she loved it.

I guess the internet is just slower to spot satire than my sixty-something-year old mother. Want proof? Check out Literally Unbelievable, which documents people posting Onion stories to their Facebook as if they were true.

Then again, you’ve got sites like Onion-like headlines in real life, which shows that the line between reality and satire is sometimes very hard to make out. Still, there’s a real simple test here, internet: if you see “The Onion” credited anywhere on a news story – either in the URL or the twitter name – chances are, it’s not real.