By: Ryan Miller

The following is an opinion piece, and the views expressed below may not reflect the views of Advance Search & Social as a whole.

Starting earlier this morning, The Onion began reporting that Congress had taken a group of schoolchildren hostage and were demanding a ransom.

The tweets began as such:

This of course, being The Onion, is a complete fabrication and was a pre-cursor build up to a series of articles now being published on the website starting with Congress Takes a Group of Schoolchildren Hostage

However, many people without a sense of humor or knowledge of The Onion, blindly believed the original tweet “Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard in Capitol building” true.  So much so that Capitol Police had to come out and say that there is no credibility to these stories or the twitter feeds.  It reminds me, to some degree, of Boston’s overreaction to the Aqua Teen Hunger Force viral promotions back in 2007 in which light-up Mooninites were mistaken as bombs.

So, did The Onion finally go too far with their satirical coverage?  Absolutely not.  This is what The Onion does, and it does it very well.  That anyone was even fooled for a moment shows just how organized The Onion is with its parody of real news if anything.    

For those that are engrained in the social sphere though, this should be taken as continued proof of the power Twitter holds over our current intake of news, information and most importantly the ability to start conversations.  If you aren’t using Twitter to get your message, your updates and your news out there you are missing out on starting some great conversations and driving traffic to your site.  Can you imagine what this blow-up is doing to The Onion’s pageviews right now?

Kudos to The Onion for sticking with this!  Despite the outcry, including ABC News, @theonion is still making updates regarding the current hostage situation, leading me to believe the entire staff is saying to the world “screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke”.

Ryan Miller is the SEO Manager for Advance Internet and freely admits to having a twisted sense of humor. You can follow him on Twitter @cromiller and add him to your circles on Google+.