Sacha Baron Cohen Rips Facebook and Other Social Media Giants
“If Facebook were around in the 1930s, it would have allowed Hitler to post 30-second ads”
Listen to Sacha Baron Cohen slam the social media industry for facilitating the spread of hate, lies, and conspiracies through its creation of the ‘greatest propaganda machine in history.’
In US news and current events today, though Sacha Baron Cohen is best known for roles in The Spy, Who Is America, and Ali G, this week he went viral for speaking out against Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and other social media sites. In this now famous Sacha Baron Cohen Facebook speech at the Anti-Defamation League, Cohen blamed social media companies for allowing the spread of hate speech and conspiracy theories. Facebook political ads have been the target of politicians like AOC recently, as Facebook has vowed to not police lies in political ads.
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Why does Cohen draw comparisons between targeted conspiracy theories and the ‘blood libel’ myth?
Renowned actor-comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has recently taken shots at social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Cohen accused the platforms of knowingly promoting hate, genocide, conspiracy theories, and online extremism. In a scathing speech delivered at the Anti-Defamation League’s ‘Never is Now’ summit earlier this November, Cohen called these tech giants “the greatest propaganda machine in history.”
Cohen’s arguments revolved around the idea that social media platforms have failed to identify, track, and remove fake news and misinformation from their platforms. Cohen argued that Facebook’s business model promotes engagement, thereby incentivizing extreme content through its algorithm. He drew comparisons between targeted conspiracy theories and the ‘blood libel’ – a historically anti-Semitic myth that spread across Europe, resulting in violence and persecution of Jewish communities.
Cohen went on to criticize tech giants for investing heavily in content moderation, forcing the responsibility of identifying misinformation and extremism onto users. He called out CEOs and executives for knowingly exposing their users to conspiracy ideology and extremist content, while attempting to cover up their roles in the process. Cohen urged these social media platforms and tech companies to take a more proactive role in policing their content, rather than relying on increased user responsibility.
Furthermore, Cohen stated that Inaction on fake news and extreme content has worsened the current U.S. political climate. He claimed that social media platforms allowed foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election to go undetected, enabling political extremism to fester online.
In conclusion, Cohen called for a stronger regulatory framework for social media companies, proposing a scenario where tech giants face the same level of scrutiny as newspapers that publish harmful content. He implored lawmakers to hold these companies to account and warned against the problems that arise from allowing private companies’ policies to shape the public discourse.
In summary, Sacha Baron Cohen’s critical speech serves as a call to action for tech giants to take responsibility for the hate, extremism, and misinformation present on their platforms. He challenged platforms to re-evaluate their business models, increase moderation efforts, and engage in regulatory cooperation to ensure a healthy, informed public discourse. Cohen’s remarks serve as a stark reminder that the fight against hate, prejudice, and conspiracy theory requires a collective effort in the interest of policy and social advancements.