Introduction – Nov 24, 2019
Given at the Anti-Defamation League’s summit on “anti-Semitism”, Sacha Baron Cohen’s speech about “hate crimes” was actually a call for tighter control of the Internet. In effect Cohen is calling for more censorship on the pretext of curbing “hate speech”.
And what precisely is hate speech? Well that’s the thing because what many regard as hateful others might see as perfectably reasonable. For example, while some might consider Sacha Baron Cohen’s portrayal of Arab leaders as mocking, others might see it as offensive. So where does one draw the line and more importantly, who decides?
Of course the irony is that Facebook and other tech giants are already exercising control over online content; so much so that Mark Zuckerberg has been likened to Orwell’s “Big Brother”.
There have been numerous reports about Facebook practising what amounts to censorship, and Facebook isn’t alone. Other tech giants like Google have also been accused of practising “centralised censorship“.
Yet as the following report reveals, Sacha Baron Cohen has just denounced the Internet as being “the greatest propaganda machine in history”.
What he really means is that the Internet is allowing the exchange of information and ideas that have not been officially sanctioned. For example to question whether six million Jews died in the Holocaust is now deemed hate speech in some countries and autocratic regimes frequently shutdown the Internet when their authority is challenged.
That’s why Sacha Baron Cohen is calling for tighter control of the Internet
Essentially, the elite are worried about the proliferation of ideas and information that they cannot control. They already control all the corporate media giants and most of the online news portals too. However, they cannot entirely control the exchange of information and ideas online and that’s where Sacha Baron Cohen comes in.
Sacha Baron Cohen: Facebook would have let Hitler buy ads for ‘final solution’
Andrew Pulver – The Guardian Nov 23, 2019
Sacha Baron Cohen has denounced tech giants Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google as “the greatest propaganda machine in history” and culpable for a surge in “murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities”.
Baron Cohen was speaking on Thursday at Never Is Now, the Anti-Defamation League’s summit on antisemitism and hate in New York, where he was presented with the organisation’s international leadership award. He said that “hate crimes are surging, as are murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities” and that “all this hate and violence is being facilitated by a handful of internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history”.
He added: “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 … As one headline put it, just think what Goebbels could have done with Facebook.”
“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’.”
Baron Cohen went on to attack Mark Zuckerberg’s defence of Facebook as 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.” Baron Cohen also criticised Facebook’s decision not to remove Holocaust deniers, saying: “We have millions of pieces of evidence for the Holocaust – it is an historical fact. And denying it is not some random opinion. Those who deny the Holocaust aim to encourage another one.”
Baron Cohen also called for internet companies to be held responsible for their content. “It’s time to finally call these companies what they really are – the largest publishers in history. And here’s an idea for them: abide by basic standards and practices just like newspapers, magazines and TV news do every day.”
“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.”
A spokesperson for Facebook said in response: “Sacha Baron Cohen misrepresented Facebook’s policies. Hate speech is actually banned on our platform. We ban people who advocate for violence and we remove anyone who praises or supports it. Nobody – including politicians – can advocate or advertise hate, violence or mass murder on Facebook.”