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Tim Cook: ‘We won’t give a platform to violent conspiracy theorists’

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the Anti-Defamation League’s “Never is Now” summit in New York City, New York, U.S., December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook said Monday that groups promoting hate or violence have “no place” on his company’s platforms, making his comments during a keynote speech at the Anti-Defamation League’s Annual Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate.

“There is no time to get tied up in knots,” said Cook, who’s openly gay and was honored with the ADL’s inaugural Courage Against Hate Award for demonstrating that a “company can speak out on social issues and be even more successful and profitable than in the past.”

While Cook did not mention other tech companies by name, the comments may be part of an effort to distinguish Apple from other tech giants like Twitter that have come under fire for becoming platforms for hate speech. Previously, Cook has noted Apple’s commitment to protecting users’ privacy as other tech giants faced criticism for making money off user data.

The debate as to whether tech platforms should let hate groups or conspiracy theorists remain on their platforms reached a fever pitch this year. That’s when Apple made a statement about conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, removing his InfoWars podcast from iTunes and his app from the App Store.

“We don’t let people with white supremacy on there,” Cook said. “We won’t give a platform to violent conspiracy theorists on the app store. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.”

Once Apple removed Jones’s podcast, other social networks like Facebook and YouTube began to follow suit. However, Twitter allowed him to remain on its platform.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has long been on the receiving end of complaints that his service doesn’t do enough to keep white supremacists and conspiracy theorists off of his platform. In September, The Wall Street Journal reported that Dorsey personally pushed for the company to keep Jones on the social networking site, though Twitter later denied the charge.

Twitter also took a hit for verifying the accounts of notorious neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler. Twitter’s excuse for allowing such individuals on its service has been that it wants to keep its platform neutral.

Cook, however, said that companies like Apple need to do stand up and do the right thing in such situations, rather than debate whether they are being impartial or not.

“If we can’t be clear on moral questions like these, we’ve got big problems,” Cook said.

The CEO also said that Apple stands up for the LGBTQ community and immigrants, because they offer unique perspectives that make America a better country.

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Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@oath.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley. Follow Yahoo Finance on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.finance.yahoo.com/