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Sacha Baron Cohen: Facebook would have allowed ads for the Holocaust
In a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, actor Sacha Baron Cohen went after social media companies for allowing and promoting lies on their platforms. It's not worth analyzing this complaint again, as I already addressed it in a previous blog post, where I wrote:
But, most importantly, the problem of misinformation in elections is not a problem that Facebook or Twitter or any social media company can actually hope to solve regardless of what they do. If the foundation of American democracy is so brittle that a politician or political group lying in an ad on Facebook or Twitter can have this horrible of an effect, or that hostile foreign governments can so easily turn our elections by buying some stupid ads on social media, then perhaps the problem is with American democracy itself.
The problem is that the United States government is too powerful and does too much, and this invites the worst sort of people to run for office and bad actors to spread lies to keep their hold on that power. Few want to restrain the power of the U.S. government, however, because they want to use that power themselves. They’d rather attack tech companies for making money on ads that they personally don’t like and pretend that it’s some kind of principled opposition to attacks on their god, democracy.
I'm more interested in analyzing a specific claim that Cohen made in his speech, which is, "If Facebook were around in the 1930s, it would have allowed Hitler to post 30-second ads on his 'solution' to the 'Jewish problem.'" This is undoubtedly true, but it's not exactly the clever point Cohen and some in the corporate media believe it is. Zuckerberg is a Jew, and, like Cohen, would have been rounded up and shipped off to a concentration camp by Hitler. If Facebook were allowed to continue to exist under Hitler's regime it would only be allowed to do so assuming it wholly adopted the Nazi agenda. Given that it was created by a Jew, it's more likely that Facebook would be shut down after Zuckerberg's arrest and everyone else who worked there would at best be monitored by the Nazi regime and considered too toxic to associate with by everyone else in German society.
In other words, Facebook's hypothetical fate in Nazi Germany would be close to what Cohen wants to do to Facebook today. Cohen isn't claiming that Zuckerberg should be killed, obviously, but he wants Facebook to be regulated so that they only put forward political speech that fits an approved agenda and anyone who dissents from that should, presumably, be considered toxic and be silenced. We can only speculate about what Cohen thinks should happen with these people, whether they should simply be shunned from civil society and left to fend for themselves on the periphery, or perhaps rounded up into government sponsored reeducation camps, but it's clear that they cannot be allowed to associate with the rest of us until they adopt officially approved talking points and opinions.