The multimillionaire executive, whose company reportedly considered a purchase of Twitter as recently as October 2017, seems to have had a major change of heart about Big Tech platforms.
“Hitler would have loved social media,” Iger said, according to Variety, upon receiving the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Humanitarian Award. “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."
He continued, “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.”
Studies have found that social networks create filter bubbles where users don't interact with anyone outside of their own belief system, if they want to. The U.S. intelligence community found that Russia harnessed Facebook and Twitter to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Scholars and activists have long pointed out that social media can be used to spread hate and conspiracies and to manipulate the public.
The 68-year-old mogul also had some choice words for America's discourse.
“Hate and anger are dragging us toward the abyss once again,” Iger reportedly 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 unrecognizable to those of us who still believe in civility, human rights and basic decency.”
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, Holocaust resistance hero Kurt Kleinman and immigrant rights activist Florence Phillips were also honored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.