Former US President Barack Obama has warned against the irresponsible use of social media which can leave people “cocooned” in alternate realities.
In a BBC interview conducted by Britain’s Prince Harry, Obama warned that the internet risked reinforcing people’s prejudices and leading to a fractured society.
He warned that such actions were distorting people’s understanding of complex issues, and spreading misinformation.
The former president expressed concern about a future where facts are discarded and people only read and listen to things that reinforce their own views.
“One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.
“The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanisation of society and allows ways of finding common ground,” he said.
Obama’s successor Donald Trump is a prolific user of Twitter, but Obama did not mention him by name.
The former U.S. President didn’t go so far as to completely condemn social media — in fact, he referenced it as a “really powerful tool for people of common interest to convene and get to know each other and connect.”
But, he also said that people should then take that further and meet and become familiar in public spaces, too, in order to deepen their mutual understanding.
“It’s also, by the way, harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the internet,” he said.
Facebook and Twitter have faced repeated calls to tackle abuse and extremism on their platforms.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :