(I know that many of you are going to skip the video above, but I suggest that you watch it as much of what Cohan says is vitally important to hear.)
Courtesy of The Guardian:
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.”
I admit that is hard to hear.
But that is why we must.
2020 is coming, and if we have not learned to turn on our filters in order to separate the truth from the bullshit, we are not only likely to see Donald Trump return to office, but a whole slew of Donald Trump’s following in his wake to infect our politics in a way that may take decades, and even generations to rectify.