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Former president Obama says social media is ‘designed’ to weaken democracies

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Former US President Barack Obama has broken his long silence to say that social media platforms are well-designed to destroy democracies.

Obama referred to the present in a late-night speech at Stanford University on Thursday  “another tumultuous, dangerous moment in history”.

“Disinformation is a threat to our democracy, and will continue to be unless we work together to address it,” he said.

Obama, the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017, expressed concern about Russia’s 2016 election meddling and invasion of Ukraine.

“People like Putin, and Steve Bannon (Donald Trump’s senior advisor) for that matter, understand it’s not necessary for people to believe (misinformation) in order to weaken democratic institutions,” Obama emphasised.

“You just have to flood a country’s public square with enough raw sewage. You just have to raise enough questions, spread enough dirt, plan enough conspiracy theorising, that citizens no longer know what to believe,” he added.

According to TechCrunch, Obama stated that while we are reaping the consequences of social media companies’ actions, it may not be too late to make different choices.

“Not all problems we are seeing now are an inevitable byproduct of this new technology. They’re also the result of very specific choices made by the companies that have come to dominate the internet, generally, and social media platforms in particular,” he noted.

In the struggle between truth and deception, cooperation and conflict, “The very design of these platforms appears to be leading us astray. And we’re seeing the fruits of our labour “Obama went on with his hour-long speech.

About the author

Brendan Byrne

While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala.




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