Sacha Baron Cohen had some strong words about the world’s biggest social media platforms.
The “Borat” star spoke Thursday at the Anti-Defamation League’s summit on anti-Semitism, Never Is Now, where he warned against a surge in hate crimes and “murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities,” The Guardian reported.
Referring to sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter, Baron Cohen added that “all this hate and violence is being facilitated by a handful of Internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history.
“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,” he explained. “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.”
The 48-year-old had particular ire for Facebook’s advertising policies.
“If you pay them, Facebook will run any ‘political’ ad you want, even if it’s a lie,” he told the audience. “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 continued, calling for social media companies to be held accountable for the hate on their platforms.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The actor was at the Never Is Now summer to accept the ADL’s International Leadership award.