Facebook Interesting and Timeless

Facebook’s “test of ridicule,” across London, Sydney and New York

“Ridicule is the best test of truth,” said the British statesman Philip Stanhope. A sentiment echoed by Dame Muriel Spark, one of the greatest British writers, when she opined, “Ridicule is the only honourable weapon we have left.”

It appears some intrepid “artists” have taken the aphorisms to heart, and they’re leading the charge in a creative revolt against Facebook, with—“the only honorable weapon we have left”—ridicule.

Facebook, bruised by the Cambridge Analytica scandal and facing the heat for turning a blind eye to abuses on its platform for years, especially the rampant spread of “fake news,” recently went on an ad blitz on a global scale, spending millions across TV, digital, newspapers and street adverts proclaiming, “Fake news is not our friend” and “Data misuse is not our friend.”

Apparently, not everyone agreed that Facebook has turned over a new leaf—so soon after a tsunami of scandals involving fake news, data breaches, election meddling—and a few took on themselves to “set the record straight.”

A street artist known as Protest Stencil decided to “improve” some of Facebook’s bus stop adverts in London, with a bit of paper, tape, “a brush and some leftover blue paint” …

… rubbing the salt in with a “Kids know when something’s up…” tweet, with a possible double-edged reference to young people turning their backs on Facebook in record numbers.

Fake news is not our friend, it’s a great revenue source,” one updated billboard read, while another said, “Data misuse is not our friend, it’s our business model.”

Interestingly, this is not the first time Facebook’s ads have been on the receiving end of a fresh coat of paint. Last month, bus shelter billboards in Sydney sporting the social media giant’s advertisements underwent a bit of unwanted “editing.”

Not everyone wielding the sword of ridicule is taking such a “subtle” approach, though. New York-based English comedian and multiple Emmy winning host of the HBO show “Last Week Tonight” recently ripped into Facebook with a parody of its ubiquitous Here Together ad, spectacularly roasting its cratering stock price, fake news problem, and its “bulls**t apology ads.”

Oliver said “public opinion of  Facebook has clearly never been lower” and the company has become a “surveillance system disguised as a high school reunion.”

Not one to employ a judicious use of restraint, Oliver’s parody relentlessly focuses on how Facebook benefits off people’s data, constant surveillance, and outrage.

“You came here for the friends… We came here for your data and the data of everyone you’ve ever come into contact with,” the voiceover says. “Your data enables us to make a ton of money from corporations, app developers, and political campaigns. Then, we discovered your uncle used to have ties to the Klan and, guess what, we realised we could make a ton of money off that s**t too.”

You can watch the full parody ad from “Last Week Tonight” here:

Across London, Sydney and New York, Facebook is now at the receiving end of ridicule, “the best test of truth.” Will the company now infamous for the spread of “fake news” ultimately be able to laugh it off?

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