In a move that could permanently cripple the internet's unchecked hoax industry - and ruin at least a couple of decent punchlines - Facebook this week announced that it is experimenting with a tag that will mark sites such as the Onion, Clickhole and Empire News as satire and alert the millions of gullible people who share these sites as truth each week.
The tag was still a "small test", Facebook said, and is not very visible on the site. It appears only in Facebook's related-links box, which appears once you have clicked a shared link, gone off-site and then returned to Facebook.
A test on Tuesday morning showed satire tags on articles from not only the Onion and its little brother, Clickhole, but also from Empire News, National Report, the News Nerd and the Daily Currant.
Those sites deal less in legitimate satire than in viral hoaxes, intended to deceive. In the past week, they have propagated fake stories like the imminent eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano and the brutal killing of an infant by a New York City police officer.
And as fake-news sites proliferate, it has become more difficult for users to weed them out. A top post on Empire News will frequently boast more than a quarter of a million Facebook shares, far more than on any other social platform. As that information spreads and mutates, it gradually takes on the pall of truth.
In March, a group of researchers at Northeastern University dug into how conspiracy theories proliferate on Facebook, ultimately finding - to quote MIT's Technology Review - that misinformation becomes entrenched when "ordinary satirical commentary or obviously false content somehow jumps the credulity barrier".
The media has proposed one solution: regular fact-checks of internet shenanigans. Organisations such as Canada's Media Smarts have suggested another: better media-literacy education, to ensure people have the critical thinking skills to understand, and question, what they read online.
Facebook has essentially just proffered its own quick fix: If you do not want people to fall for fake news, clearly mark it - and on the platform where people encounter fake news most.
"We received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these [related news] units," a Facebook representative said.
But this is no panacea either. Facebook's auto-tag feature predictably miscategorises a number of fake-news sites, potentially lending them credibility they do not deserve.
To further complicate the issue, Facebook makes a rather peculiar advocate for media transparency.
The algorithms behind its news feed, which 62.5 per cent of users are not even aware of, hide 70 to 80 per cent of the content your friends and pages post - and do so according to calculations we can neither know nor scrutinise.
That situation is becoming increasingly worrisome to news organisations, sociologists and internet activists.
It was, in fact, just in the news last week, when race riots in Ferguson, Missouri predominated on unfiltered Twitter long before they appeared on many users' Facebook feeds.