British-born actor Sacha Baron Cohen wrote a mock PR statement for Google and YouTube containing his thoughts on why the tech giant should deny its services to former President Donald Trump, declaring that “freedom of speech is not freedom of reach.”
“Hey @Google @YouTube [Google CEO Sundar Pichai], [YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki], seems like you’re struggling,” Cohen wrote Monday on social media. “Virtually every other social media company has removed Donald Trump, but you might let him BACK ON!?”
“I wrote a statement for you. Feel free to use. This is not hard,” he added, along with the hashtag, “Ban Trump Save Democracy.”
Seems like you're struggling.
Virtually every other social media company has removed Donald Trump, but you might let him BACK ON!?
I wrote a statement for you. Feel free to use.
— Sacha Baron Cohen (@SachaBaronCohen) January 25, 2021
In his tweet, Cohen also shared two screenshots of the purported “statement” that he wrote for Google, giving the tech company justifications — as well as thinly veiled criticism — it can use to crack down on free speech on its subsidiary YouTube.
“Google’s motto used to be ‘Don’t Be Evil,’ but under our stewardship YouTube has become a super-spreader of evil lies, conspiracies, and hate,” the document began, adding that “virtually every other social media platform has removed Donald Trump from their platform,” while YouTube has not.
Following the Capitol Hill riot, YouTube suspended then-President Trump’s channel “in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence.” Last week, the video platform reportedly extended its ban on Trump’s account by at least a week.
“We acknowledge that YouTube was complicit in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6,” Cohen’s statement continued. “For years, we permitted YouTube to serve as Trump TV — a propaganda arm for his hateful and incendiary rhetoric.”
“Our willful negligence helped radicalize extremists, including those who stormed the Capitol, murdered a police officer, and attempted to violently overturn a democratic election,” he added.
The actor went on to say, speaking for Google, that YouTube will now be “permanently removing” the former president and all of his videos.
“This is not a question of free speech,” Cohen wrote. “Access to social media platforms is a privilege, not a right. Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach.”
The role-playing draft proclaimed Google has “a duty of care to our users — to prevent harm and uphold public safety.”
“We realize that many will see this step as too little, too late,” Cohen added. “We repeatedly and inexcusably ignored countless warnings — we are mindful that, in the eyes of many, we have lost the trust and credibility upon which a reputable brand depends.”
“Over the years, we have recklessly allowed YouTube to be used by ISIS and other terrorist organizations, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers, and anti-vaxxers to recruit new followers and endanger the lives of others,” the mock statement alleged.
The actor concluded by stating that removing Trump is “only a first step,” and the crackdown on free speech must expand.
“We now understand that YouTube must fundamentally change. That is why today’s decision to remove Donald Trump is only a first step,” Cohen wrote. “We will immediately begin systemic reform of our business model and algorithms so that YouTube no longer recommends and amplifies extremism and hate.”
“We pledge to lead that change — and if we do not, we expect that our employees, partners, regulators, national governments, and people around the world will hold us accountable,” he said.