Earlier this week, the beloved satire site The Onion posted a headline and photo that claimed hundreds of Cubans had clung to the wings of Air Force One, in an attempt to come back to the U.S. along with President Obama in the wake of his historical Cuba trip.
You’d think most social media users know about The Onion, but in true Internet fashion, that apparently isn’t the case. According to the urban legend and hoax debunking website Snopes.com, not everyone got the joke.
Thanks to an influx of emails from confused readers, the site was forced to run a post labeling the claim as “False.”
Social media users have often unwittingly shared fake news articles published by web sites that exist solely to traffic in outlandish false stories, but The Onion began in the pre-Internet days as a printed humor publication and evolved to become the premier online satirical web site (i.e., a site that aims to make readers laugh, not to be fooled).
The Onion‘s item about Cuban refugees clinging to Air Force One consisted of a photograph and headline with no content, as did a previous (and similarly confusing) share from the site holding that SeaWorld houses orcas in large plastic bags while cleaning their tanks. A previous Onion article about a SeaWorld show that was “Just Elephant Drowning in Large Tank of Water with No Explanation” prompted a number of social media users to object to the imaginary described practice, as did another item about a teen whose parents intended to euthanize her because she was only “capable of texting and rolling her eyes.”
If people believe that airplanes are spraying us with chemicals and that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, why shouldn’t they be duped by stories from The Onion?
[This article has been updated]