“Social media didn’t create racism or White supremacist teams. It did not create the type of ethnonationalism that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is enraptured with,” Obama stated. “All these items existed lengthy earlier than the primary tweet or Fb Poke. Fixing the disinformation drawback will not remedy all that ails our democracies or tears on the material of our world. However it will possibly assist tamp down divisions and allow us to rebuild the belief and solidarity wanted.”
The forty fourth President particularly referred to as for tech firms to be extra clear about how their algorithms work.
“These firms are nonetheless manner too guarded about how precisely their requirements function, or how their engagement rating methods affect what goes viral and what would not,” he stated.
“For an increasing number of of us, search and social media platforms aren’t simply our window into the web. They function our major supply of reports and data. Nobody tells us that the window is blurred, topic to unseen distortions and refined manipulations,” he stated.
Obama argued that the design of main social media platforms relied on maximizing engagement so folks spend extra time on their websites.
“Sadly, it seems that inflammatory, polarizing content material attracts and engages,” he stated. “Different options of those platforms have compounded the issue. For instance, the best way content material seems to be in your telephone, in addition to the veil of anonymity that platforms present their customers, lots of instances could make it unimaginable to inform the distinction between, say, a peer-reviewed article by Dr. Anthony Fauci and a miracle remedy being pitched by a huckster.”
Whereas Obama’s speech very a lot targeted on the function of social media, he briefly talked about the function conventional media can play in amplifying division or misinformation. In his memoir, he was vital of how mainstream information retailers dealt with the false “birther” conspiracy principle that was being pushed by then-private citizen Donald Trump a decade in the past.
CNN’s Devan Cole and Dan Merica contributed to this report.