We have said it before, and we will say it again: Facebook remains an indispensable yet thoroughly disgusting part of our daily lives as internet news publishers.
But until you watch the latest installment of John Oliver’s This Week Tonight, you probably do not even know the half of it.
‘Facebook is a toilet’
In the above video, Oliver and his team unpack Facebook’s efforts to expand platform adoption internationally, first telling an amusing story about how translation issues caused congratulatory digital balloons to be triggered accidentally during a tragedy.
“But the company has made some hugely consequential mistakes overseas, and that’s what tonight’s story is about,” Oliver says. “In the Philippines and Cambodia, Facebook has been accused of empowering authoritarians. In Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, viral rumors and hateful comments on Facebook have been linked to outbreaks of deadly violence. But for the worst distillation of what Facebook can do to a country, just look at Myanmar.”
Formerly called Burma, the predominantly Buddhist southeast Asian nation has been under U.N. scrutiny for purportedly engaging in genocide against the Rohingya, a heavily persecuted Muslim minority group.
Oliver references reports that more than 10,000 Rohingya have died in recent years, with about 725,000 others relocating to nearby Bangladesh. He notes that Facebook is not responsible for genocide but quotes a U.N. report, saying, “Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate” in Myanmar.
“By all accounts, Facebook absolutely did inflame pre-existing tensions there,” Oliver says, later referring to an “echo chamber of Islamophobia” created by users on the site whose language was largely not readable to Facebook content analysts.
Among the most shocking parts of Oliver’s piece examining Facebook’s role in Myanmar is the assertion that the words “Facebook” and “the internet” are referred to interchangeably by people of Myanmar.
While numerous other details in Oliver’s report are of substantial socio-political interest, a teacher from Myanmar offers his blunt take on Facebook that hit home for me.
“Everybody is busy (on) smartphones playing games. I hate. I hate,” the teacher says. “I don’t like this. It’s terrible. Looks like Facebook is a toilet. Toilet.”
Oliver extends the metaphor perfectly.
“I get that he’s annoyed,” he says of the teacher, “but calling Facebook a toilet is a little unfair to toilets because they make shit go away whereas Facebook retains shit, disseminates shit to your acquaintances and reminds you of shit from seven years ago all while allowing corporations to put their shit in front of you. What I’m saying is, there is a purity and integrity to toilets that Facebook seriously lacks.”
If that’s not enough of a draw for you to click play on the video above, perhaps you will be intrigued by factual discussions of “anus photoshopping” and one Indian man’s analysis of “butt part.”
Regardless, Facebook is a toilet.