Apple CEO Tim Cook: Banning ‘Hate, Division’ Is ‘Right Thing to Do’

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event to announce new products Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Apple CEO Tim Cook advocated for censorship of “those who push hate [and] division” across his company’s digital platforms during an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) event on Monday in New York City, NY.

Cook was awarded the ADL’s first “Courage Against Hate Award” at the ADL’s “Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate.” The ADL described Apple’s top executive as a “courageous and visionary leader” who is “dedicated to fighting hate” and “racist vitriol.”


Cook said:

Do not be indifferent to the bloodshed of your fellow man. Do not be indifferent. This mandate moves us to speak up for immigrants and for those who seek opportunity in the United States. We do it not only because their individual dignity, creativity, and ingenuity have the power to make this country an even better place, but because our own humanity commands us to welcome those who need welcome.

It moves us to speak up for the LGBTQ community, for those whose differences can make them a target for violence and scorn. We do so not only because these unique and uncommon perspectives can open our eyes to new ways of thinking, but because our own dignity moves us to see the dignity in others.

Perhaps most importantly, it drives us not to be bystanders as hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple. we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots.

That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division, and violence. you have no place on our platforms. You have no home here.

From the earliest days of iTunes to Apple Music today, we have always prohibited music with a music of white supremacy. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do, and as we showed this year we won’t give a platform to violent conspiracy theorists on the app store. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

My friends, if we can’t be clear on moral questions like these, then we’ve got big problems. At Apple, we are not afraid to say that our values drive our curation decisions. And why should we be? Doing what’s right, creating experiences free from violence and hate — experiences that empower creativity and new ideas — is what our customers want us to do.

We believe the future should belong to people who use technology to build a better, more inclusive, and more hopeful world.

Cook suggested that the Holocaust was a function of excessively free speech and expression, invoking Kristallnacht:

History is full of examples when those with power and those who ought to have good judgment instead look the other way. I believe the most sacred thing that each of us given is our judgment, our morality, or own innate desire to separate right from wrong. Choosing to set that responsibility aside at a moment of trial is a sin. We as individuals have the power to know, and feel, and act; and we ought to use it. That’s a lesson that Ruth Lansing knows well. Ruth just turned 100 on November 13th. She was recently interviewed by the BBC for a more solemn occasion, the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. 

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt praised Apple’s deplatforming of Alex Jones and Infowars while linking “immigration” with “hate.” He said, “[Tim Cook] has also shown leadership in tackling consequential issues that are core to ADL’s global mission in fighting anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms. On issues like immigration, LGBTQ rights, to online hate, and civil rights. … Apple was the first company to remove Alex Jones’s hateful anti-government conspiratorial rants from their platform, and other tech companies, as we know, followed their lead.” He described Cook as “nothing short of courageous” in his advocacy for online censorship.

Both Cook and Greenblatt linked the ascendance of President Donald Trump to what they said is a contemporary increase in anti-Semitism and other bigotries, with the former describing current times as “a moment when the struggle against hate has renewed importance.” The ADL regularly frames anti-Semitism as rising in America following Trump’s election to the presidency.

The ADL describes itself as “the world’s leading anti-hate organization” with a “timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.”

Watch Cook’s entire speech and Greenblatt’s introduction here.

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