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Facebook gets a reaction, John Oliver style.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops. They’re the most convenient things you can get your hands on nowadays. As with many young South Africans, you probably use them constantly to access information and media.

These devices are, after all, the handiest means for you to watch a video, listen to your favourite podcast, download the latest album by your favourite artist, or read a piece of news (that, hopefully, isn’t fake). And, given the portability of these items, you can do all these things almost anywhere.

We do, of course, hope that whatever you are glued to is legitimate, especially if you’ve accessed it through the still popular medium that is Facebook. We say ’still popular’ because, mainly due to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal that made headlines early in 2018 (which you might have read about on your tablet), the social network has fallen under a considerable amount of international scrutiny. Our ears are still ringing with phrases such as ‘data harvesting’, ‘fake news’, ‘political campaigns’ and ‘hate speech’, so much so that many feel loath to log into their own profiles anytime soon.

Facebook did attempt to ‘save face’ not long after the scandal broke, in the form of the ‘Here Together’ ad campaign. It served three purposes: to remind us what Facebook was originally developed for (connecting with friends, family and kindred spirits, etc.); to rationalise, ever so slightly, how things went sour (mainly by laying the blame on the sudden and apparently inexplicable intrusion of annoyances such as spam, fake news and clickbait into the Facebook experience); and to promise change.

 

Unfortunately for Mark Zuckerberg, the team from ‘Last Week Tonight’ with John Oliver devised the perfect response to Facebook’s well-meaning ad: a hilarious false advertisement spoofing ‘Here Together’ while summarising their actual, more negative traits.

What makes it all the more biting is that it comes at the end of a segment in which Oliver first casts aspersions on the outcomes of Facebook ‘connecting the world’, as well as the platform’s former, rather unfortunate choice of motto, ‘Move Fast and Break Things’.

 

The segment mostly focuses on Facebook’s dangerous influence on popular thought within a troubled political climate. The Cambridge Analytica scandal might have aggravated more suspicion surrounding the Trump Campaign in America, but the social media network has had far more devastating effects in other countries. Oliver zones in on Facebook being a primary source of online news and information in Myanmar, where the brutal Buddhist-led crackdown on the Rohingya Muslims living in Rakhine State has been fueled partly by hate speech spread on the platform.

 

The video’s takedown and lampooning of Facebook makes for amusing and thought-provoking viewing. It’s the kind that makes you happy you can access similar forms of entertainment so easily thanks to the device that’s in your pocket.

 

But remember if you’re browsing the video on a mobile device, turn your head for a brief moment in a busy café, and it could be snatched. Trip and fall on the pavement, and your phone screen might get cracked. It’s instances such as these that make things like portable possessions cover a welcome relief. Insurance for your portable devices means keeping yourself well-informed, pleasantly entertained, and while our cyber insurance solution gives you peace of mind that you’re protected against identity theft while you’re surfing the web on your phone.