After making waves last year trolling various public figures while in disguise in his Showtime series, “Who Is America,” which led to one notable instance of a Georgia state lawmaker resigning his office in humiliation, Sacha Baron Cohen is back, but this time as himself, and he’s attacked Mark Zuckerberg as “One of the six people who decide what information so much of the world sees….” but who’s ultimately responsible for propagandizing the masses.
In an acceptance speech while receiving the ADL International Leadership Award he went on a scathing attack against Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and others, slamming them as representing “the greatest propaganda machine in history”.
He said before a large audience in New York that while reaching billions of people the US social media giants only care about their bottom line as they amplify hate and lies and messages that “appeal to our baser instincts”.
“All this hate and violence is being facilitated by a handful of internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history,” he said.
“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.”
And addressing the long-running controversy triggered after the 2016 election, Baron Cohen further took Facebook to task for running political advertisements without fact-checking, even comparing it to propaganda used under the Third Reich.
“If you pay them, Facebook will run any ‘political’ ad you want, even if it’s a lie,” he said. “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 says the Silicon Six billionaires care "more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy," calls Zuck a modern Caesar and jokes that explains his haircut. Seriously, make sure to watch this entire speech. The whole thing is 🔥 pic.twitter.com/5yk7hAcsaj
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) November 22, 2019
At one point Baron Cohen even suggested social media giant CEOs who allow messages on their platform which lead to election interference or even genocides in parts of the globe should be sent to jail.
He also attacked Mark Zuckerberg’s prior claims that Facebook is actually a bastion of “free expression”.
He said: “I think we could all agree that we should not be giving bigots and paedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims.” He also went after “holocaust-deniers” and others which he called anti-Semitic.
“Internet companies can now be held responsible for paedophiles who use their sites to target children. I say, let’s also hold these companies responsible for those who use their sites to advocate for the mass murder of children because of their race or religion. And maybe fines are not enough. Maybe it’s time to tell Mark Zuckerberg and the CEOs of these companies: you already allowed one foreign power to interfere in our elections, you already facilitated one genocide in Myanmar, do it again and you go to jail.”
Refuting Zuckerberg’s ‘freedom of expression’ defense as an explanation for greater caution, Cohen said further: “This is not about limiting anyone’s free speech. This is about giving people, including some of the most reprehensible people on earth, the biggest platform in history to reach a third of the planet. Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach. Sadly, there will always be racists, misogynists, anti-Semites and child abusers.”
“So here’s a good standard and practice: Facebook, start fact-checking political ads before you run them, stop micro-targeted lies immediately, and when the ads are false, give back the money and don’t publish them,” the comedian and satirist explained, though in a dead serious tone.
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Watch the full speech here: