Sacha Baron Cohen provided the keynote address for the Anti-Defamation League’s 2019 Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate. Stepping away from his many guises
, Baron Cohen discusses the current threat to democracy being served by the ‘Silicon Six’. He argues although they often reference ‘freedom of speech’ as an excuse, this often leads to a freedom of reach for those wishing to manipulate the structure of society.
This reminds me of danah boyd’s discussion of cognitive strengthening, filling the gaps and the challenges of the fourth estate. Also, Ben Thompson provides a useful discussion of the challenges associated with moderation, one being the human side of the process, while Tarleton Gillespie suggests that moderation is not the panacea.
Doug Belshaw provides his own response to Baron Cohen’s speech, suggesting that the issues are associated with the financial roots of platform capitalism, the need for more local moderation and the problem of vendor lock-in.
Mike Masnick pushes back on Baron Cohen’s argument that social media is to blame for fake news and instead argues that things did not take off until Fox News validated things. In addition to this, Masnick questions whether there really is a solution to the problem of moderation and communication.
Democracy, which depends on shared truths, is in retreat, and autocracy, which depends on shared lies, is on the march. Hate crimes are surging, as are murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities.
Voltaire was right, “those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” And social media lets authoritarians push absurdities to billions of people.
Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach.
Zuckerberg at Facebook, Sundar Pichai at Google, at its parent company Alphabet, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Brin’s ex-sister-in-law, Susan Wojcicki at YouTube and Jack Dorsey at Twitter. The Silicon Six
Those who deny the Holocaust aim to encourage another one.