“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” got in its digs at tech companies on Sunday night. The show’s jab at Zillow was child’s play compared to how the host took down Facebook and the role the social giant is playing in cultures and communities overseas.
In his nearly 20-minute main story (with some NSFW bits) on his weekly HBO show, Oliver focused on Facebook’s impact in Myanmar in particular where internet use — and Facebook use especially — has exploded in recent years.
But the story goes beyond distracted teens and delves into serious concerns about ethnic cleansing. Certainly Facebook was not to blame for genocide in Myanmar, Olivers stressed, but the service did inflame pre-existing tensions he said. Oliver pointed to a report by independent U.N. investigators who said “Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate.”
Because Oliver is a comedian, it’s not all super heavy and he does pepper his monologue with plenty of zingers:
- “Facebook: The worst place to wish happy birthday to a friend, other than a funeral.”
- Mark Zuckerberg, while explaining Facebook’s early motto “Move fast and break things,” said, “Sometimes we go too fast and we mess up a bunch of stuff and we have to fix it. And that’s cool.” Oliver asked, “Is that cool? That seems like the most reckless corporate motto since the Hindenberg company’s “Flay fast and smoke cigarettes in a big bag of hydrogen!”
- “Calling Facebook a toilet is a little unfair to toilets, because they make s*it go away, whereas Facebook retains s*it, disseminates s*it to your acquaintances, and reminds you of s*it from seven years ago, all while allowing corporations to put there s*it in front of you. There is a purity and integrity to toilets that Facebook seriously lacks.”
But Oliver gets at the seriousness of the issue in Myanmar and the tensions between different ethnic factions quite convincingly, and he wonders why so much hate speech in the country stayed up for so long on the site — which has rules against that sort of thing.
“No one should be judged by the worst things people say about them on Facebook,” Oliver argued.
Watch the full video above.