Obama warns of the dangers of ‘irresponsible’ internet use

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Head-to head: Donald Trump and Barack Obama. Photo: Reuters / Carlos Barria

Barack Obama appeared to have Donald Trump in his sights when he issued a warning against the irresponsible use of social media.

In a rare interview since he left the White House in January, the former United States President seemed to be referring to his successor on a BBC radio program hosted by Prince Harry, the grandson of Britain’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.

Obama stressed that people in positions of power should be careful when posting online messages, warning that social media was distorting civil discourse.

His remarks appeared to be aimed at President Trump, who is a prolific Twitter user and tends to connect with his core base through social media.

“One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities,” Obama told listeners of BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”

He also singled out the issue of fake news and expressed concern about a future where facts are discarded. Obama felt such actions were distorting people’s understanding of complex issues and spreading misinformation.

Finding common ground, he said, could only be achieved through a diversity of views.

“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,” Obama added.

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