Sacha Baron Cohen Rips Google Co-Founders for Resignations: ‘Now You Drop Out?’

“So long as you profit from hate, you are the #SiliconSix,” British comedian says

Last Updated: December 5, 2019 @ 9:58 AM

Sacha Baron Cohen has turned his Silicon Valley ire from Facebook to Google, with the comedian ripping the company’s two co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, for stepping down from the tech giant’s parent company earlier this week.

In a tweet posted on Wednesday, Baron Cohen slammed their exit from Alphabet, saying they did little to curb “white supremacy [and] conspiracies” on Google and YouTube.

“Larry and Sergey, first you drop your ‘Don’t Be Evil’ mantra, now you ‘drop out’?” Cohen tweeted, referencing the company’s decision to remove its famous motto from its code of conduct last year.

Brin and Page “still control 51% of voting shares,” Baron Cohen said, before imploring them to stop racism and misinformation from spreading. (Together, the two co-founders control 51.3% of voting shares, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, the day they announced they were stepping down from Alphabet.)

He added: “So long as you profit from hate, you are the #SiliconSix.”

The “Silicon Six” is a term Cohen recently coined, referring to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, Page, Brin and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Baron Cohen’s criticism comes only days after YouTube, the Google-owned video giant, said its crackdown on “borderline” content — including conspiracy videos and misinformation — has been effective; YouTube said there’s been a 70% drop in the amount of borderline content watched since it implemented more strident rules earlier this year. YouTube also worked to remove thousands of uploads of the Christchurch mosque shooting in March, in a move that signaled its renewed emphasis on policing its site.

Baron Cohen, who came to fame portraying bumbling interviewers “Da Ali G” and “Borat,” has become perhaps the most famous tech critic in the last month. In November, Baron Cohen made waves with a 20-minute speech excoriating Facebook and Zuckerberg. Cohen said Zuckerberg’s argument against fact-checking its political ads — “in general, I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy” — was damaging Western democracies. He also blasted Facebook as a safe haven for conspiracy theorists and racists.

“First, Zuckerberg tried to portray this whole issue as ‘choices … around free expression.’  That is ludicrous.  This is not about limiting anyone’s free speech,” Baron Cohen said. “This is about giving people, including some of the most reprehensible people on earth, the biggest platform in history to reach a third of the planet. Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach.”

The speech received plenty of kudos from pundits and reporters critical of Silicon Valley. At the same time, it was shredded by many free speech absolutists as an anti-free expression stance, with Reason’s Robby Soave calling it “ridiculous hyperbole.” 

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