Apple CEO Tim Cook says tech companies should accept responsibility for “hate speech”


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Less than two weeks after YouTube’s new “hate speech” policies led to mass demonetization of history channels, independent journalists, and other innocent creators on its platform, Apple CEO Tim Cook has suggested that tech companies are ignoring “hate speech” and failing to take responsibility for it.

Cook made the comments in his commencement speech at Stanford University where he was talking about the state of the tech industry and said:

“But lately, it seems, this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation: the belief that you can claim credit without accepting responsibility.

We see it every day now, with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech. Fake news poisoning our national conversation. The false promise of miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood. Too many seem to think that good intentions excuse away harmful outcomes.

But whether you like it or not, what you build and what you create define who you are.

It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this. But if you’ve built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos. Taking responsibility means having the courage to think things through.”

Cook’s comments come on the heels of YouTube implementing one of its biggest ever crackdowns on what it classifies as “hate speech” across its site. The comments also follow leaked documents from Facebook and Pinterest showing that these companies are proactively removing what they deem to be “hate” and “misinformation” from their platforms.

However, these attempts to regulate what big tech companies deem to be “hate speech” and “misinformation” have caused massive collateral damage to users of these platforms.

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YouTube’s new “hate speech” rules have resulted in a huge purge of independent creators on its site. Pinterest’s supposed attempts to stop the spread of misinformation have led to the censorship of one of the biggest pro-life advocacy groups in America – Live Action. And Facebook’s processes for dealing with “hate speech” include the company putting people on creepy “hate agent” lists that track and monitor their offline behavior.

This isn’t the first time Cook has taken a strong stance against what he deems to be “hate speech.” Last year, when he accepted the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL’s) Courage Against Hate Award at the Never is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate, he said that “hate” has no place on Apple’s platforms. Many were critical of Cook’s comments when accepting the award because they felt he was justifying censorship and failing to acknowledge that the term “hate” is often used by big tech firms subjectively silence ideas they don’t agree with.

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Tom Parker

Tom Parker is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net and provides news and analysis on how we can promote free speech, stop censorship, and protect our personal data online. [email protected]