Sacha Baron Cohen slams Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg in fiery speech

Sacha Baron Cohen

British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has slammed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for refusing to kick Holocaust deniers off the platform.

The Borat star made his comments in a keynote address to Jewish organisation the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), attacking Facebook and other Internet companies for failing to challenge lies and hate on "free speech" grounds.

"All this hate and violence is being facilitated by a handful of Internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history," he said, while receiving the ADL's Leadership Award.

Singling out Zuckerberg, Baron Cohen compared him to Julius Caesar, joking that this would "explain his haircut" in a recent address given by Zuckerberg at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. during which he defended Facebook's record on tackling hate, adding the Internet mogul would have allowed Nazis free rein in the 1930s. Zuckerberg controversially said he would not be kicking Holocaust deniers off Facebook last year.

"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,'" the funnyman raged, when discussing Facebook's policies. "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 are false, give back the money and don't publish them."

In his speech, the star also complained that the spread of lies had created problems for him as a comedian, as his jokes, which often have included duping people into revealing their prejudice, only worked when the public agreed on basic facts about the world.

The 48-year-old concluded by saying: "If we prioritise truth over lies, tolerance over prejudice, empathy over indifference and experts over ignoramuses, (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."


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