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John Oliver Presents a Scathingly Honest Version of Facebook’s Apology Ads

"Seriously, you guys, we were making so much money off of you. You don't even understand."

Facebook has been having a bit of an image problem for a while now, what with their epidemic of fake news and conspiracy theories leading up to the 2016 election and that whole allowing companies to harvest and sell your data in order to engage in “psychological warfare” thing. Mark Zuckerberg had to testify in front of a joint Senate committee, Facebook set a record for the biggest one-day stock drop ever, and the company has started churning out apology ads, promising that they’re going to stop getting tripped up with the “spam, clickbait, fake news, and data misuse” and get back to what Facebook was supposed to be about in the first place—no, not ranking the “hotness” of female Harvard students. Friends.

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As John Oliver noted on last night’s Last Week Tonight (their first episode back from hiatus), that’s a load of sycophantic bullshit. Oliver thinks Facebook needs a friend—a real friend, not a Facebook friend—to remind them who they really are: “a surveillance system disguised as a high school reunion.” So they made an ad of their own, one that’s a lot more honest than the one Facebook made.

Narrated by Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch, the new ad is upfront about what its purpose is: friends data. “Your data enabled us to make a fuckton of ad money from corporations, app developers, and political campaigns,” he says. “Then, we discovered your uncle used to have ties to the Klan, and guess what? We realized we could make a fuckton of money off that shit, too. Seriously, you guys, we were making so much money off of you. You don’t even understand.”

Facebook is really, really sorry—not for what they did, but that we found out about it—but as the (fake) ad says, what are we going to do about it? Leave? Sure, but that can be a difficult thing for many, not just because of the social element, but also because Facebook makes it really hard to definitively delete your account.

The new slogan created by Last Week Tonight is depressingly apt: Facebook: We own who you are.

(image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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