Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger has said “Hitler would have loved social media” during a ceremony in which he was being honoured with a humanitarian award.
The comments from the billionaire executive came as he rebuked social media companies like Facebook and Twitter upon receiving the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Humanitarian Award on Thursday.
“Hitler would have loved social media,” he said, according to Variety.
“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.
“It creates a false sense that everyone shares the same opinion. 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.”
The 68-year-old also lashed out at the current state of discourse online.
“Hate and anger are dragging us toward the abyss once again,” he said.
“Apathy is actually growing. 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.
“It is consuming our public discourse and shaping our county and culture into something that is wholly unrecognisable to those of us who still believe in civility, human rights and basic decency.”
The comments come as social media companies have been criticised for not doing more to prevent hate speech and problematic content on their platforms.
In March, Facebook came under fire after the terror attack at two Christchurch mosques was live-streamed on the platform – where it remained for hours.
The social media giant announced it would ban all “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” on the platform and on Instagram, which it also owns.
Facebook said while it had long prohibited hateful treatment of people based on race, it hadn’t applied the same rationale to white nationalism, “because we were thinking about broader concepts of nationalism and separatism — things like American pride and Basque separatism, which are an important part of people’s identity”.
It said it had reconsidered that after “conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world” who said, according to Facebook, “that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organised hate groups”.