Sacha Baron Cohen hops off Instagram to protest hate speech policy
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Sacha Baron Cohen hops off Instagram to protest hate speech policy

Jewish actor ditches his 500k followers for 24 hours as part of campaign to persuade Facebook to ‘stop hate for profit’

Sacha Baron Cohen arrives at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, January 5, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Sacha Baron Cohen arrives at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, January 5, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Sacha Baron Cohen, a British comedian, actor, writer and director, announced on Twitter that he would be freezing his Instagram account on Wednesday in an ongoing campaign to hold social media companies accountable for hate speech.

Baron Cohen has been vocally critical of Facebook’s handling of hate speech, and in his keynote address at the Anti-Defamation League’s 2019 summit, he declared Facebook and a handful of other internet companies to be “The greatest propaganda machine in history.” Facebook owns Instagram.

On Monday Baron Cohen, known for his fictional characters including Ali G and Borat, tweeted a picture of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wearing sunscreen and commented: “The only thing more terrifying than Mark Zuckerberg surfacing in whiteface…Is the white supremacy and lies Facebook spreads every day.

“This Weds Sept 16 I’m freezing my Instagram to tell Mark to #StopHateForProfit. Who’s in?!”

Baron Cohen, whose Instagram account has over half a million followers, is part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which demands that Facebook addresses racism, hate, and disinformation on its platforms.

On Monday, the campaign began a “week of action” led by nine civil rights and advocacy organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, which awarded Baron Cohen the ADL International Leadership Award in 2019. It includes a 24-hour “Instagram freeze” on Wednesday, in an attempt to draw attention to what the organization claims are practices “undermining democracy.”

The “Stop Hate for Profit” website notes that the action comes two weeks after the death of protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which occurred after violent militias, including the Kenosha Guard, used Facebook to call for their followers to incite violence.

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