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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

John Oliver runs down the specific ways in which "Facebook is a toilet" on Last Week Tonight

Illustration for article titled John Oliver runs down the specific ways in which "Facebook is a toilet" on Last Week Tonight
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

After a blisteringly funny opening spent compiling all the new shapes into which conservative commentators are contorting themselves in their frenzied mission to excuse yet another powerful accused Republican sex creep (Jeanine Pirro really needs to stop trying to make “Democratic demon rats” happen), John Oliver moved onto another reliable source for hateful, mendacious bullshit, Facebook. Taking on Facebook for being the platform for your most racist uncle to tell you why [insert non-white group] are coming to steal your [jobs, women, way of life, HBO GO password] is, in theory, tricky business. After all, simply putting up a bulletin board doesn’t mean you’re then responsible for every “Racist uncle seeks pals for white supremacy, Game Of Thrones watching parties” flier that gets thumbtacked to it, right? But, as Oliver notes, Facebook—whose slogan memorably once was “move fast and break things” is awfully cavalier about how it is used to cause actual, horrifying damage all over the world.

After first pulling the old “that’s not Myanmar, that’s Mikhail Gorbachev’s mole” map gag to show how little Americans know about geography, Oliver spent much of his main story showing how Facebook has become that embattled country’s favorite tool for ethnic cleansing against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. Pointing out how the site’s free smartphone app has made Facebook function as Myanmar’s de facto internet for the last five years, Oliver exposed how slowly Facebook has responded to the fact that military strongmen and racist Buddhist monks (apparently and depressingly a thing) in Myanmar have flooded the Facebook-dependent population with so much anti-Rohingya propaganda that fully three-quarters of a million Rohingya have fled the country, and anti-Rohingya lies have resulted in rioting and deaths.


But, hey, Facebook has standards and rules that people know about before choosing to use it, right? Not in Myanmar they effectively don’t, since, as Oliver reveals, the company unleashed itself onto every phone in the country before the site could even recognize the local font, and before it had any native language speakers on board to screen flagged hate speech (and the occasional anus-mouth). Even now, Oliver shows that the company’s mission statement is woefully mistranslated, and that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s belated response was to hire “60 whole Burmese speakers” to police the site is a further example of the company’s irresponsible business strategy.

But Oliver is nothing of not here to help, unveiling as he did on Sunday’s show a free commercial for Zuckerberg to use as he continues to introduce Facebook’s “fetid swamp of mistruths and outright lies interspersed with the occasional reminder of a dead pet” to every unsuspecting country on earth. In the show’s inimitable style, the ad starts off with the company’s utopian line about connecting everyone in the world in one place before the ad’s far-flung users first start posting their thoughts on George Soros inventing mosquitos and Hillary Clinton creating AIDS, and then revolt against the overflowing, unregulated sewer Zuckerberg and company have released on them. As people of all races and colors pronounce Facebook “a toilet,” the chuckling narrator wishes them good luck with that, blithely hoping their “country will survive it.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.