Sacha Baron Cohen slams Facebook as a home for conspiracy theories

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  • Actor Sacha Baron Cohen wrote an op-ed for Time condemning social media platforms for allowing misinformation to spread, and he singled out Facebook in particular.
  • The “Borat” actor, who has come out hard against Facebook before, said the company is a “dutiful ally” to President Donald Trump and attacked the firm for its failure to fact-check misleading political ads and posts.
  • Cohen wrote how the “trifecta” of President Trump, Facebook, and the spread of misinformation has created “a whirlwind of conspiratorial madness” leading up to the 2020 election that could “kill democracy as we know it.”
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Actor Sacha Baron Cohen in an op-ed for Time Magazine called for an end to the proliferation of conspiracy theories on social media platforms — and the actor zeroed in on Facebook specifically.

The actor slammed the company for the role it has played in misinformation spreading online, calling out Facebook’s algorithm that is designed to promote content that more people find interesting. Cohen also called Facebook out for its refusal to fact-check political ads and remove misleading posts.

The actor pointed out that conspiracy theories are more easily spread during times of uncertainty.

“Donald Trump — who averages 23 lies a day and is the world’s greatest superspreader of coronavirus conspiracies —has caught the virus himself. He has a dutiful ally in Facebook — the greatest propaganda machine in history. And this is a time when Americans are especially vulnerable to lies and conspiracies. This trifecta has created a whirlwind of conspiratorial madness,” Cohen wrote in the op-ed.

Cohen’s damning remarks come as the 2020 presidential election looms just weeks away and as social media sites continue to grapple with policing disinformation on their platforms. Facebook has been in the spotlight specifically for giving QAnon networks

Amnesty International slams Palantir’s human rights record

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Amnesty International is criticizing Palantir’s human rights record a day before the secretive Silicon Valley technology startup is set to go public.

In a report on Monday, Amnesty singled out Palantir’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Palantir’s software allows ICE to build detailed profiles of people in a single location, drawing on existing ICE data, public records and active investigations. 

Amnesty says ICE has also used Palantir’s technology in arresting the parents of children who cross the border unaccompanied and to conduct massive workplace raids, such as a 2019 raid in Mississippi  that swept up nearly 700 workers.

The data company “has sought to deflect and minimize its responsibility to protect human rights,” Amnesty said, adding that “there is a high risk that Palantir is contributing to serious human rights violations of migrants and asylum-seekers.”

“Palantir touts its ethical commitments, saying it will never work with regimes that abuse human rights abroad. This is deeply ironic, given the company’s willingness stateside to work directly with ICE, which has used its technology to execute harmful policies that target migrants and asylum-seekers,” Michael Kleinman, the director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley Initiative, said in a statement.

Pressure to cut ties with ICE

Palantir has previously disputed its links with deportations, saying that it does not contract with the ICE division that removes immigrants and says that its software is not used as part of detentions or deportations.

The company declined comment, citing a mandatory “quiet period” prior to its going public. 

Other news reports and activist groups have documented evidence that Palantir’s software is used to carry out deportations. Human rights groups and privacy advocates also have urged Palantir to cut ties with the federal government. The American Civil Liberties Union has