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Never Is Now 2019 | ADL International Leadership Award Presented to Sacha Baron Cohen

Never Is Now 2019 | ADL International Leadership Award Presented to Sacha Baron Cohen
thank you very much thanks everyone who stood up unnecessary but very flattering Thank You Jonathan for your very kind words thank you the anti-defamation league for this recognition and your work in fighting racism hate and bigotry and to be clear when I say racism hate and bigotry I'm not referring to the names of Stephen Miller's labradoodles now I realize that some of you may be thinking what the hell is a comedian doing speaking at a conference like this I certainly am I've spent most of the past two decades in character in fact this is the first ever time that I've stood up and given a speech as my least popular character

Sacha

Baron

Cohen

and I have to confess it is terrifying I realized that my presence here may also be unexpected for another reason at times some critics have said my comedy risks reinforcing old stereotypes the truth is I've been passionate about challenging bigotry and intolerance throughout my life as a teenager in England I marched against the fascist National Front and to abolish apartheid as an undergraduate I traveled around America and wrote my thesis about the civil rights movement with the help of the archives of the ADL and as a comedian I've tried to use my characters to get people to let down their guard and reveal what they actually believe including their own prejudice now I'm not going to claim that everything I've done has been for a higher purpose yes some of my comedy okay probably half my comedy has...
never is now 2019 adl international leadership award presented to sacha baron cohen
been absolutely juvenile and the other half completely puerile but I admit there was nothing particularly enlightening about me as Borat from Kazakhstan the first fake news journalist running through a conference of mortgage brokers while I was completely naked but when Bora was able to get an entire bar in Arizona to sing through either Jill down the well it did reveal people's indifference to anti-semitism when as Bruno the gay fashion reporter from Austria I started kissing a man in a cage fight in Arkansas nearly starting a riot it showed the violent potential of homophobia and when disguised there's an ultra woke developer I proposed building a mosque in one rural community prompting a resident to proudly admit I am racist against Muslims it showed the growing acceptance of Islamophobia that's why I really appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today around the world demagogues appeal to our worst instincts conspiracy theories once confined to the fringe are going mainstream it's as if the age of reason the era of evidential argument is ending and now knowledge is increasingly D legitimized and scientific consensus is dismissed 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 a murderous attacks and religious and ethnic minorities now what do all these dangerous trends have in common I'm just a comedian and an act I'm not a scholar but one thing is...
never is now 2019 adl international leadership award presented to sacha baron cohen
pretty clear to me all this hate and violence is being facilitated by a handful of Internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history the greatest propaganda machine in history let's think about it Facebook YouTube and Google Twitter and others they reach billions of people 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 and it's no surprise that the greatest propaganda machine in history has spread the oldest conspiracy theory in history the lie that Jews are somehow dangerous as one headline put it just think what gurbles could have done with Facebook on the internet everything can appear equally legitimate Breitbart resembles the BBC the fictitious protocols of the Elders of Zion look as valid as an ADL report and the rantings of a lunatic seem as credible as the findings of a Nobel Prize winner we have lost it seems a shared sense of basic facts upon which democracy depends when I as the wannabe gangsta led asked the astronaut Buzz Aldrin what would they like to walk on the Sun the joke worked because we the audience shared the same facts if you believe the moon landing was a hoax the joke doesn't work when Borat...
never is now 2019 adl international leadership award presented to sacha baron cohen
got that bar in Arizona to agree that Jews control everybody's money and they

never

give it back the joke worked because the audience shared the fact that the depiction of Jews as miserly is a conspiracy theory originating in the Middle Ages but when thanks to social media conspiracies take hold it is easier for hate groups to recruit easier for foreign intelligence agencies to interfere in our elections and easier for a country like Myanmar to commit genocide against the ringa now it's actually quite shocking how easy it is to turn conspiracy thinking into violence in my last show who is America I found an educated normal guy who had held down a good job but who on social media repeated many of the conspiracy theories their president Trump using Twitter has spread more than 1700 times to his 67 million Twitter followers the president even tweeted that he was considering designating and Tifa who are anti fascists who march against the far-right as a terror organization so disguised and then as an Israeli anti-terrorism expert : lol harmalard yalla let go disguised as him I told my interviewee there at the Women's March in San Francisco and Tifa were plotting to put hormones into babies diapers in order to make them turns again there and this man believed it I instructed him to plant small devices on three innocent people at the March and explained that when he pushed a button he'd trigger an explosion that would kill them all they weren't real explosives...
of course but he thought they were I wanted to see would he actually do it the answer was yes he pushed the button and thought he had actually killed three human beings Voltaire was right when he said those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities and social media lets authoritarianism now in their defense these social media companies have taken some steps to reduce hate and conspiracies on their platforms that these steps have been mainly superficial and I'm talking about this today because I believe that our pluralistic democracies are on a precipice and in the next 12 months and the role of social media could be determinant now British voters will go to the polls while online Spira says promote the despicable theory of the great replacement that white Christians are being deliberately replaced by Muslim immigrants Americans will vote for president while trolls and BOTS perpetuate that it's the disgusting lie of a Hispanic invasion and after years of YouTube videos calling climate change a hoax the United States is on track a year from now to formally withdraw from the Paris Accords a sewer of bigotry and vile conspiracy theories that threaten our democracy in to some degree our planet this can't possibly be what the creators of the internet had in mind I believe that it's time for a fundamental rethink of social media and how it spreads hate conspiracies and lies now last month however Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook delivered a major...
speech that not surprisingly warned against new laws and regulations on companies like his well some of these arguments are simply part of my French let's count the ways first Zuckerberg tried to portray this whole issue as choices around free expression that is ludicrous 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 sadly there will always be racist misogynist anti-semites and child abusers but I think we can all agree that we should not be giving bigots and pedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims second Mark Zuckerberg claimed that new limits on what's posted on social media would be to pull back on free expression this is utter nonsense the First Amendment says that and I quote Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech however this does not apply to private businesses like Facebook we're not asking these companies to determine the boundaries of free speech across society we just want them to be responsible on their platforms now if a neo-nazi comes goose-stepping into a restaurant and starts threatening other customers and say he wants to kill Jews would the owner of the restaurant a private business be required to serve him an elegant eight course meal of course not the restaurant owner has every legal right and indeed I...
would argue a moral obligation to kick that Nazi out and so do these internet companies now third Mark Zuckerberg seemed to equate regulation of companies like his to the actions of the most repressive societies incredible this from one of the six people who decide what information so much of the world sees Zuckerberg it's at Facebook sundar pichai at Google at its parent company alphabet Larry Page and Sergey Brin Bryn's ex-sister-in-law Susan Wojcicki at YouTube and Jack Dorsey at Twitter the silicon six all billionaires all Americans who care more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy this this is ideological imperialism six unelected individuals in Silicon Valley imposing their vision on the rest of the world unaccountable to any government and acting like they're a bomb for the reach of law it's like we're living in the Roman Empire and Mark Zuckerberg is Caesar at least that would explain his haircut now here's an idea instead of letting the silicon sects decide the fate of the world let our elected representatives voted for by the people of every democracy in the world have at least some say 4th Zuckerberg speaks of welcoming a diversity of ideas and last year he gave us an example he said that he found post denying the Holocaust deeply offensive but he didn't think Facebook should take them down because I think there are things that different people get wrong at this very moment there are still Holocaust deniers...
on Facebook and Google still takes you to the most repulsive Holocaust denial sites sites with a simple click one of the heads of Google in fact told me that these sites just show both sides of the issue this is madness to quote Edward r murrow one cannot accept that there are on every story to equal and logical sides to an argument we have unfortunately 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 still zugerberg says that people should decide what is credible not tech companies but our time when two-thirds of Millennials say that they haven't even heard of Auschwitz how are they supposed to know what's credible how are they supposed to know that the lie is a lie there is such a thing as objective truth facts do exist and 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 and the n-double-a-cp insist on facts and purge these lies and conspiracies from their platforms now v when discussing the difficulty of removing content Zuka berg mark zuckerberg asked where do you draw the line yes drawing the line can be difficult but here's what he's really saying removing more of these lies and conspiracies is just too expensive these are the richest companies in the world and they have the best engineers in the world they could fix these...
problems if they wanted to Twitter could deploy an algorithm to remove more white supremacist hate speech but they have reportedly haven't because it would eject some very prominent politicians from their platform maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing the truth is these companies won't fundamentally change because their entire business model relies on generating more engagement and nothing generates more engagement than lies fear and outrage so it's time to finally call these companies what they really are the largest publishers in history so here's an idea for them abide by basic standards and practices just like newspapers magazines and TV news do everyday we have standards and practices in television and the movies there are certain things we cannot say or do in England I was told that alley G could not curse when he appeared before 9 p.m. here in the US the Motion Picture Association of America regulates and rates what we see I've had scenes in my movies cut or reduced to abide by those standards now if there are standards and practices for what cinemas and television channels can show then surely companies that publish material to billions of people should have to abide basic standards and practices to take now take the issue of political ads on which facebook have been resolute fortunately Twitter finally banned them and Google today I read is making changes to but if you pay them Facebook will run any political ad you want even if it's a...
lie 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 so here's a good standard and practice Facebook start fact-checking political ads before you run them stop micro-targeted lies immediately and when the ads of false give back the money and don't publish them here's another good practice slow down every single post does not need to be published immediately Oscar Wilde once said we live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessity but but let me ask you is having every thought or video posted instantly online even if it's racist or criminal murderous really a necessity of course not the shooter who massacred Muslims in New Zealand live streamed his atrocity on Facebook where it then spread across the internet and was viewed likely millions of times it was a snuff film brought to you by social media why can't we have more of a delay so that this trauma inducing filth can be caught and stopped before it's posted in the first place finally Zuckerberg said that social media companies should live up to their responsibilities but he's totally silent about what should happen when they don't by now it's pretty clear they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves as with the Industrial Revolution it's time for regulation and legislation to curb the...
greed of these high-tech robber

baron

s in in every other industry a company can be held liable when their product is defective when engines explode or seat belts malfunction car company's recalled tens of thousands of vehicles at a cost of billions of dollars it only seems fair to say to Facebook YouTube and Twitter your product is defective you are obliged to fix it no matter how much it costs and no matter how many moderators you need to employ in every under in entry in every other industry you can be sued for the harm you caused publishers can be sued for libel people can be sued for defamation I've been sued many times I'm being sued right now by someone whose name I won't mention because he might see me again but social media companies are largely protected from liability for the content their users post no matter how indecent it is by section 230 F get ready for it the Communications Decency Act it's absurd fortunately internet companies can now be held responsible for pedophiles who use their site to target children so 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 the anime do it again and you go to jail in the end it all...
comes down to what kind of world we want in his speech Zuckerberg said that one of his main goals is to uphold as wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible it sounds good yeah our freedoms are not only an end in themselves they're also the means to another end as you say here in the US the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness but today these rights are threatened by hate conspiracies and lies so allow me to leave you with a suggestion for a different aim for society the ultimate aim of society should be to make sure that people are not targeted not harassed and not murdered because of who they are where they come from who they love or how they pray if we make that our aim if we prioritize truth over lies tolerance over prejudice empathy over indifference and experts over ignoramus --is then maybe just maybe we can stop the greatest propaganda machine in history we can save democracy we can still have a place for free speech and free expression and most importantly my jokes will still work thank you very much