Sacha Baron Cohen has called out Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter as "the greatest propaganda machine in history" for hate groups. The Borat star particularly homed in on Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook CEO has touted the social media platform as a proponent of free speech. Cohen addressed the Anti-Defamation League earlier this week, which is where he accepted the ADL International Leadership Award and delivered his blistering speech. You can read a portion of the speech below.
"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."
The ADL fights anti-Semitism and Sacha Baron Cohen has been outspoken in his support over the years. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have been under scrutiny for the past few years for what many to believe is enabling hate groups to spread lies and hatred to a large audience. Cohen did not tread lightly when he put Zuckerberg in his crosshairs. He had this to say.
"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."
Sacha Baron Cohen believes that there should be a bigger effort taken on by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube. Fake news is now a way of life and social media is one of the biggest ways that it spreads, even when it's coming from so-called "reputable sources." Cohen is not alone in his wish for the big tech companies to stand up to hate speech and disinformation. He explains.
"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... If you pay them, Facebook will run any 'political' ad you want, even if it's a lie. And they'll even help you micro-target those lies to their users for maximum effect. Under this twisted logic, if Facebook were around in the 1930s, it would have allowed Hitler to post 30-second ads on his 'solution' to the 'Jewish problem.'"
Sacha Baron Cohen also referred to Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and four executives from Alphabet: Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki as the "Silicon Six" during his ADL acceptance speech. The Ali G actor made it clear what he was going to use his speech for earlier in the day, almost as a warning shot. The actor/comedian was shocked that he would be given such a large platform to share his views. "Bizarrely, I'm receiving an award from the ADL this afternoon. More bizarrely, they're letting me give a speech," said Cohen on social media.
Who Is America and a lot of Sacha Baron Cohen's work over the years has pointed out the racism and bigotry in the United States and the world. Since delivering the speech, it has been shared far and wide. Mark Zuckerberg and many of his peers have yet to respond, but Twitter did announce that they have taken down nearly 200 hate groups from their platform. You can see Sacha Baron Cohen's speech below, thanks to the ADL YouTube channel.
Bizarrely, I’m receiving an award from the @ADL this afternoon. More bizarrely, they’re letting me give a speech. I have some thoughts on what should happen to #MarkZuckerberg for turning Facebook into the greatest propaganda machine in history. https://t.co/d5I69AqiYQ— Sacha Baron Cohen (@SachaBaronCohen) November 21, 2019
In my speech I mentioned that if #MarkZuckerberg and tech CEOs allow a foreign power to interfere in our election (again) or facilitate another genocide (like Myanmar), perhaps they should be sent to jail. My full speech here: https://t.co/HDrjK9a8Rj— Sacha Baron Cohen (@SachaBaronCohen) November 22, 2019