‘SNL’ Imagines Twitter’s Content Moderation in the Elon Musk Era

Saturday Night Live - James Austin Johnson as Donald Trump
Will Heath/NBC

The “only two Twitter employees who haven’t been laid off yet” had an unenviable task in a sketch in the Saturday, November 5, episode of Saturday Night Live. The characters, played by SNL stars Chloe Fineman and Kenan Thompson, had to listen to banned users campaigning to be allowed back on Twitter now that tech mogul (and former SNL host) Elon Musk owns the social media company.

First up in the sketch is a conspiracy theorist played Cecily Strong: “The COVID plan-demic was created by Big Pharma to silence me,” Strong says, in character. “I’m sorry, am I too loud for your precious intensive care units? You’re not even sick!”

Then comes a militaristic video gamer played by Bowen Yang, banned from Twitter for doxxing another player. “I posted his real name, home address, and middle school schedule and said, ‘Twitter, do your thing.’” the gamer says.

Amy Schumer, host of Saturday’s SNL episode, plays a user who swears she’s not a bot. “I’m all woman, and I love funny guys like you,” she tells Thompson’s character. “Oh, my God. You’re so funny. I bet you have an awesome Social Security number.”

And Punkie Johnson’s character says she speaks on behalf of Black Twitter and objects to Musk’s plan to start charging users for Twitter features. “We just want to say, nah, dawg. We’d rather cross our asses on over to MySpace and get that popping again,” she says.

Finally comes James Austin Johnson as a certain ex-POTUS, who launches into a free-wheeling rant about Jonathan Taylor Thomas — or “Jonathan Dalyor Dhomas,” as he pronounces it — and Chevy Chase.

“It’s me Donald John Trump. Just John, not Jonathan,” he says. “But I know many Jonathans, and I respect all of them, but none more than JDD himself, Jonathan Daylor Dhomas, who is a personal friend of mine. I saw him on Home Improvement, and I said that kid is going to be a star, and he was for a very brief time. But JDD wasn’t very nice to Chevy Chase in Man of the House, was he? And many are saying Chevy [was] not very nice on [the] set of Community. Won’t be back for [the] reboot. Can you believe that?”

Saturday’s SNL installment also featured a fake commercial for COVID as a solution to work burnout, a sketch about overexcited jurors, a cold open with a presidential address about the “big yikes” midterms. And in a spoof of Netflix’s The Watcher, Schumer plays a suburban mother whose dirty Property Brothers secret becomes public knowledge!

Saturday Night Live, Saturdays, 11:30/10:30c, NBC