Sacha Baron Cohen discusses Donald Trump's global social media ban, and the perils of 'freedom of speech'


Sacha Baron Cohen expresses his reservations against social media, calling them the 'propagators of shared lies.'

FP Staff January 13, 2021 16:13:30 IST

Days after global social media websites decided to ban Donald Trump, the former US President, actor Sacha Baron Cohen, seemed considerably pleased.

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Having mimicked Trump in his latest Borat film, Baron-Cohen soon expressed his opinions on Twitter, thanking the thousands of employees working in companies like Facebook and Twitter, who pushed for a world without “purveyor of lies, conspiracies, and hate.”

See the tweet

Twitter finally banned Trump!

We did it!

— Sacha Baron Cohen (@SachaBaronCohen)

This is the most important moment in the history of social media. The world’s largest platforms have banned the world's biggest purveyor of lies, conspiracies and hate. To every Facebook and Twitter employee, user and advocate who fought for this--the entire world thanks you! — Sacha Baron Cohen (@SachaBaronCohen)

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The actor, in a Variety interview, shared his reservations about the concept of social media and how the various platforms are nothing but propagators of conspiracy theories and what he calls “shared lies”. Baron-Cohen’s campaign against this media began way back in 2019 with Anti-Defamation League’s Never Is Now summit, where he meticulously launched a tirade against companies like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube among others, especially their lackadaisical approach when it came to censoring potentially harmful content.

Talking about his views, Baron-Cohen said, “While I was aware of the dangers of social media from 2015 onwards, I was trying to find a celebrity who would actually take up the cause. They know who they are, but I approached a number of celebrities over the years, trying to say: ‘Listen, this is the issue right now, this is really dangerous, will you be the mouthpiece for the cause?’ All of them refused.”

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The actor also opined on the various social media platforms’ hesitation to curtail the spread of fake news, citing the excuse of “freedom of speech.” He says there are always obvious limits to such a concept, adding that Europe utilised these restrictions in an era following World War II.

As a solution, Baron-Cohen suggests strong fact-checking “armies” that can be deployed in these media so that information gets amply filtered before it reaches the public. He adds, that these “trillion-dollar companies” should essentially say, “We are going to employ hundreds of thousands of people, potentially millions of people worldwide, and share these profits and use these people to help curb the excesses of our companies.”

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Baron-Cohen's Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.