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Disinformation on social media threat to democracy, says Barack Obama

Disinformation on social media threat to democracy, says Barack Obama
22 Apr, 2022
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Former US President Barack Obama has said the disinformation being spread by social media is a threat to our democracy. He was expressing views at an event at Stanford University on “Challenges to Democracy in the Digital Information Realm”. 

“Disinformation is a threat to our democracy and will continue to be unless we work together to address it. Tune in as I share some thoughts on what we can all do now,” he said, suggesting that the tech industry per se needs to be regulated to curb this menace. 

Obama stated, “In the competition between truth and falsehood, cooperation and conflict, the very design of these platforms is tilting us in the wrong direction. And we’re seeing the results.”

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He also cautioned that citizens no longer know ‘what to believe’ due to false information spreading online. Disinformation is a threat to our democracy and will continue to be unless we work together to address it.” 

“People like Putin, and Steve Bannon (Donald Trump’s senior advisor) for that matter, understand it’s not necessary for people to believe disinformation in order to weaken democratic institutions. 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,” added Obama, who had served as the 44th US President from 2009 to 2017.  

Obama also underscored the fact that while the whole world is reaping what social media companies have sown, it still may not be too late to make different choices. 

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“Not all problems we are seeing now are an inevitable by-product 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, “Obama further added.