Accepting an award for his humanitarian work Wednesday, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger attacked social media for its role in spreading hate.
“Hitler would have loved social media," said Iger at the Simon Wiesenthal Center tribute dinner, according to Variety. “It’s the most powerful marketing tool an extremist could ever hope for because by design social media reflects a narrow worldview filtering out anything that challenges our beliefs while constantly validating our convictions and amplifying our deepest fears.”
“It creates a false sense that everyone shares the same opinion,” he continued. “Social media allows evil to prey on troubled minds and lost souls, and we all know that social news feeds can contain more fiction than fact, propagating vile ideology that has no place in a civil society that values human life.”
Iger was being honored by the center, a global human rights organization that “confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.”
His sharp rebuke a came day after lawmakers and tech giants met on Capitol Hill for a House Judiciary Committee hearing scrutinizing the spread of white nationalism and hate speech through social media platforms. The Tuesday hearing, sprinkled with explosive moments, included testimony by executives from companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google and came weeks after a self-proclaimed white supremacist killed 50 people at two New Zealand mosques.
The gunman teased the attack on Twitter; posted links to his 87-page manifesto, which mentioned President Trump, on the anonymous message board 8chan; and streamed the attack live via Facebook. Within hours of the attack, the social media companies scrambled to take down the videos and remove the shooter’s accounts.
“In the last few years, we have been harshly reminded that hate takes many forms, sometimes disguising itself as more socially acceptable expression like fear or resentment or contempt,” Iger said during his speech at the Beverly Hilton. “It is consuming our public discourse and shaping our country and culture into something that is wholly unrecognizable to those of us who still believe in civility, human rights and basic decency.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has offered a wide-ranging plan to address the excessive power wielded by the internet giants. Media critics and journalism groups are developing programs to help Americans evaluate news and information sources.
In talking about the role of U.S. leaders in ending the spread of hate, Iger said they “must offer a plan for progress that works for all of us and does not include leaving millions behind.”
“And leaders,” Iger continued, “also have to be committed to a society and government that respects the rights and the human dignity of everyone within it.”
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