Actor Sacha Baron Cohen arrives at the European Premiere of Alice Through the Looking Glass at a cinema in London, Britain, May 10, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Paul Hackett/File Photo.
British Jewish actor Sacha Baron Cohen, upon accepting the Anti-Defamation League’s International Fellowship Award in New York City on Thursday, criticized social-media giants for allowing hate speech to flourish on their platforms.
He called the steps taken by social-media companies to reduce hate and vile conspiracy theories on their sites as “mostly superficial.”
He told the crowd: “I believe it’s time for a fundamental rethink of social media and how it spreads hate, conspiracies and lies.”
The actor, who stars in the Netflix series “The Spy,” particularly blasted Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, and his “simply absurd” and “ludicrous” speech last month at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he warned against new laws and regulations to combat hate speech on companies like his.
“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,” he said. “Sadly, there will always be racists, misogynists, antisemites and child abusers. But I think we could all agree that we should not be giving bigots and pedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims.”
Baron Cohen also attacked what he called the “Silicon Six”: Zuckerberg at Facebook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai at Google, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. He claimed that the billionaires—all Americans—“care more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy.”
He added that 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.”