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Obama accuses social media of weakening democracies


One of the major causes of the weakening of democracies is the profound change in our ways of communicating and informing ourselves he told students at Stanford, the university in the heart of Silicon Valley, California.

The former politician admitted that he would not have maybe not elected without sites like MySpace or Facebook, and referred to the beneficial work of raising awareness and mobilization carried out by activists around the world, through the networks.

Above all, he detailed the flip side of the success of Facebook and YouTube, whose economic model, large-scale targeted advertising, is based on the attention economy. Unfortunately, it’s controversial and polarizing content that grabs attention and drives engagement.he noted.

The problem with fake news

Barack Obama also dwelt on the phenomenon of disinformation, and blamed himself for not having realized enough how receptive we had become to lies and conspiracy theories before the election of Donald Trump, who succeeded him.

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Putin didn’t do that. He didn’t need it. We did it to ourselveshe added, referring to the manipulation campaigns orchestrated from Russia.

A sitting president denied clear election results and aided a violent insurgency against the nation’s capitalhe asserted, in reference to Donald Trump, who did not recognize the victory of Joe Biden at the end of 2020, and whose fans stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

This must be our alarm bell to react.

Barack Obama therefore called for a reform of the laws that govern social networks, so that they are more accountable and more transparent, explaining that the problem at the heart of disinformation was less what people postthat the content that these platforms promote.

This is the proof, according to him, that they are not neutral and that algorithms should be subject to safety checks by a regulatory authority, just like cars, food and other consumer products.

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He then detailed a series of values ​​that he believes should guide content moderation, such as strengthening democracy and respecting differences.

The tools do not control us. We can control themhe concluded.

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