Actor Sacha Baron Cohen railed against social media firms giants including Facebook, Google, and Twitter calling them “the greatest propaganda machine in history” for hate groups.
CNBC reports that British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has blamed tech giants Facebook, Google, and Twitter for boosting the voices of hate groups and spreading fake news during a speech before the Anti-Defamation League this week.
Baron Cohen is best known for playing the lead characters in films such as Borat about a documentary filmmaker from Kazakhstan coming to America, he also portrayed the character of Ali G on Da Ali G Show where he would conduct interviews in character with guests who were often unaware that Baron Cohen was an actor. The actor’s signature style has been to trick the people he interviews into revealing their own biases or convincing them to say offensive things or take part in outrageous scenarios.
But Baron Cohen lashed out at the Masters of the Universe in Silicon Valley recently during a speech before the ADL. Baron Cohen stated that hate groups and divisive rhetoric are on the rise across the world and blamed Big Tech for acting as “the greatest propaganda machine in history.” He stated during his speech:
Think about it. Facebook, YouTube and Google, Twitter and others — they reach billions of people. The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify the type of content that keeps users engaged — stories that appeal to our baser instincts and that trigger outrage and fear. It’s why YouTube recommended videos by the conspiracist Alex Jones billions of times. It’s why fake news outperforms real news, because studies show that lies spread faster than truth. And it’s no surprise that the greatest propaganda machine in history has spread the oldest conspiracy theory in history — the lie that Jews are somehow dangerous.
Baron Cohen harshly criticized Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who promoted freedom of speech to students during an event at Georgetown University recently. The actor pointed out issues he had with Zuckerberg’s refusal to police speech on the Facebook platform, stating:
If a neo-Nazi comes goose-stepping into a restaurant and starts threatening other customers and saying he wants [to] kill Jews, would the owner of the restaurant be required to serve him an elegant eight-course meal? Of course not! The restaurant owner has every legal right and a moral obligation to kick the Nazi out, and so do these internet companies.
Baron Cohen stated that believes Facebook should be regulated and that there should be an automated delay between the time material is uploaded and it is posted to the platform in order to ensure that violent content is not allowed on the platform. He stated:
There is such a thing as objective truth. Facts do exist. And if these internet companies really want to make a difference, they should hire enough monitors to actually monitor, work closely with groups like the ADL, insist on facts and purge these lies and conspiracies from their platforms.
Baron Cohen referred to the CEO’s of Silicon Valley’s biggest firm as “The Silicon Six”, this includes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and four executives from Google’s parent company Alphabet: Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
A Twitter spokesperson noted after Baron Cohen’s speech that it had suspended the accounts of 186 hate groups so far. The spokesperson stated: “Our rules are clear: There is no place on Twitter for hateful conduct, terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups.” Facebook, Google, and YouTube did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC.