KEY POINTS

  • Baron Cohen asks why Zuckerberg should have so much power and not be held responsible for his actions
  • He once compared Zuckerberg to the Roman emperor Julius Caesar
  • Musk suggests Baron Cohen "#DeleteFacebook" because "it’s lame"

What do Tesla CEO Elon Musk and comedian-actor Sacha Baron Cohen have in common apart from their deadpan demeanor and both being celebrities born outside the United States? Answer: they both dislike Facebook and, by extension, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The Zuckerberg foes recently came together on common ground on Twitter. Late last week Baron Cohen tweeted: "We don’t let 1 person control the water for 2.5 billion people. We don’t let 1 person control electricity for 2.5 billion people. Why do we let 1 man control the information seen by 2.5 billion people? Facebook needs to be regulated by governments, not ruled by an emperor!" The term emperor is a reference to Zuckerberg, who Baron Cohen said in 2019 was displaying Caesar-like tendencies..

To which, Musk replied: "#DeleteFacebook It’s lame."

In 2018, Musk deleted his companies’ Facebook pages (Tesla, SpaceX) and tweeted to say he doesn’t “like Facebook. Gives me the willies. Sorry.” In July 2017, Musk took a personal dig at Zuckerberg. During an exchange over the future of artificial intelligence (AI), Musk (long an opponent of evil AI) said Zuckerberg’s “understanding of the subject is limited.” Musk has also called AI the “biggest risk we face as a civilization.”

Zuckerberg had previously assailed Musk's warnings against AI as "pretty irresponsible." His love affair with AI stems from the simple reality AI is increasingly a critical part of Facebook's business. Without AI, Facebook wouldn't be able to accomplish many of those little things that still make it the world's leading social media platform.

For his part, Baron Cohen tore into Zuckerberg during a scathing speech at the Anti-Defamation League in November 2019. He blasted Facebook, Twitter, and Google for willingly enabling the spread of hate speech and lies, and for together comprising "the greatest propaganda machine in history."

Baron Cohen is bewildered the internet treats "the rantings of a lunatic" as equal to statements made by a Nobel Prize winner. This "equality" kills the idea of shared, basic facts everyone agrees on.

Sacha Baron Cohen, pictured in July 2019, launched a searing broadside against social media giant Facebook Sacha Baron Cohen, pictured in July 2019, launched a searing broadside against social media giant Facebook Photo: AFP / Lisa O'CONNOR

Baron Cohen, however, reserved much of his spite for Zuckerberg, who said he won't take down hate speech on Facebook because the latter claims this is a form of free speech.

"This is not about limiting anyone's free speech," railed Baron Cohen. "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."

He said private companies have control over what they allow, which is something democratic governments are prevented from doing. He called for stricter regulation to allow governments to hold tech companies accountable. Tech firms, however, remain unregulated but Baron Cohen said tech CEOs can exert a kind of "ideological imperialism" over their companies.

"It's like we're living in the Roman empire and Mark Zuckerberg is Caesar -- at least that would explain his haircut (which looks like Caesar's)," said Baron Cohen.