Obama And Misinformation

You’re forgiven if you didn’t catch former President Barack Obama admit, with some humble trepidation, that the growing dangers of misinformation were underestimated by his administration.

Obama didn’t tend to speak in sound bites during his eight years in the White House, and in his post-presidency, he’s become even more theoretical in his rare public appearances. He’s not trying to be circumspect, it’s just how his mind works. And there was a good deal of world news last week that pushed his comments below the fold, so to speak. That being said, his comments were dramatic and disturbing, and merit your attention.

Speaking at The Atlantic conference in Chicago, Obama said that he “underestimated the degree to which democracies are vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation, including the U.S.”
“If you asked me what I'm most concerned about when I think back toward the end of my presidency, it probably has more to do with the topic here today,” said Obama. The topic was “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy.”



“It's something I grappled with a lot during my presidency. I saw it sort of unfold, and that is the degree to which information, disinformation, misinformation was being weaponized,” he noted.

To make the distinction clear, he explained that “misinformation” is wrong information,  but disinformation is “a systematic effort to either promote false information, to suppress true information, for the purpose of political gain, financial gain, enhancing power, suppressing others, targeting those you don't like.”

And the former president was clear about where he points the blame. He said he believes platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube “appear to have some insight into what’s more likely to prompt insurrectionists, white supremacists, misogynist behavior and internet bullying.”

“They seem to know what it is. … We don’t want to be policing everything that’s said on the internet, but what they haven’t been forthcoming on is what their product designs are,” Obama added. “And there are ways in which a democracy can rightly expect them to show us … to show us in the same way than any other product.”

He didn’t mince words: “What we’ve seen is a breakdown of that consensus, and what we’ve seen is a shift in technology and who controls these platforms in ways that are not transparent and that has contributed to anger, a sense in which we are no longer operating by the same rules or on the same facts.”

And so, what of The First Amendment, and the changes that are being proposed that might limit freedoms? Said Obama: “In our design, the theory is in the First Amendment, you have freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, and everybody has a say, and in that marketplace then we’re going to sort out what’s true and what’s false or what’s best for us, how we act collectively and so forth.

“In reality, as we all know, some voices have been louder than others. Some voices were excluded entirely. But we did come to a point. And what we’ve seen is a breakdown of that consensus, and what we’ve seen is a shift in technology and who controls these platforms in ways that are not transparent, and that has contributed to -- aggravated -- a sense in which we are no longer operating by the same rules or on the same facts.”

3 comments about "Obama And Misinformation".
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  1. Michael Pursel from Pursel Advertising, April 11, 2022 at 4:52 p.m.

    OMG.  talk about misinformation...The OBAMA Team lead the nation in the Russian "Influence" garbage that was broadcast as fact across media platforms INCLUDING THIS ONE HERE.  I stopped commenting on these articles becuase you all enjoy your blindness, most of you hated and continue to hate the Bad Orange Man.  Even though some of us tried to tell you.. same with Hunter Biden laptop..."it's not even worth our time to look into this nonsense!"  and NOW?  Crickets.  I'm done.  I look at your headlines and understand why our country is where it is.  Let the King of Misinformation sit and be quoted here as Gospel. SMH

  2. Artie White from Zoom Media Corp replied, April 12, 2022 at 1:16 p.m.

    - Terrible grammar? Check.
    - Random usage of capital letters? Check.
    - "What about Hunter Biden blah blah blah?" Check.
    - Comment is a rant that does not address the content of the article? Check.

    I love playing Trump Cultist Bingo on Mediapost. 

  3. tyler lubbers from clench Media, April 15, 2022 at 1:16 p.m.

    Failure to acknowledge reality when presented with all the facts: Check.

    I love playing blind sheep bingo on Mediapost.

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