The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Iger recently rebuked social media in a speech earlier this week as reported by Variety . He emphasized social media’s fermentation of bias and influence to hate. He was awarded the Humanitarian Award at Simon Wiesenthal Center and stated during his speech:
“It’s the most powerful marketing tool an extremist could ever hope for because by design social media reflects a narrow world view filtering out anything that challenges our beliefs while constantly validating our convictions and amplifying our deepest fears.”
Iger goes on to comment on how “Hitler would have loved social media,” a fact of which he’s not wrong. Hitler used propaganda during World War II as a means to spread prejudice and manipulate the public, much like how terroristic groups such as Isis are targeting and radicalizing individuals. On March 15, 2019, a white supremacist shot 50 people in New Zealand mosques while wearing a body cam. His video quickly went viral. According to washingtonpost.com, YouTube’s headquarters assembled “incident commanders” (executives who are trained to manage posts like suicides, murders, etc.), and for days the team physically removed uploads and deleted YouTube profiles that posted videos of the shooting. YouTube wasn’t alone; Facebook, Twitter, reddit, and others experienced the same tidal wave of uploads. Users would add watermarks, change bandwidths, or edit footage speed in order to get their clip uploaded. Facebook reported over 1.5 billion clips uploaded in the 24 hours post shooting. Below you can see my April 12, 2019 Google search of “New Zealand shooting video” and the results…
Iger joins Apple’s Tim Cook as another large company CEO to speak out against technology spreading hate. His speech concluded by encouraging the public to think twice about which politician they support in the 2020 campaign, and to back an individual that will be influential on the future of social media and technology. He urges the public to wait for a candidate that will “offer a plan for progress that works for all of us.” Hopefully, there will be major changes before the 2020 election to policy and handling of social media platforms.