Former US President Barack Obama said that social media platforms are well-designed to wreck democracies. Speaking at Stanford University even late on Thursday, he called the current moment another tumultuous, dangerous moment in history. Obama, who served as 44th US President from 2009 to 2017, said that disinformation is a threat to our democracy and will continue to be a problem until we work together to address it.
He also raised concerns about Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential elections as well as the Ukraine invasion.
People like Putin, and Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's senior advisor for that matter, understand that it's not necessary to believe misinformation in order to weaken democratic institutions, Obama said.
You have to flood a country's public square with enough raw sewage. He said that you just have to raise enough questions, spread enough dirt, plan enough conspiracy theorising, that citizens don't know what to believe.
Obama stated that it may not be too late to make a change, even though we are reaping what social media platforms have sown.
We are seeing a lot of problems as a result of this new technology. They are also the result of very specific choices made by the companies that have come to dominate the internet, generally, and social media platforms in particular, according to Obama.
He stated in his hour-long speech that the very design of these platforms seems to be tilting us in the wrong direction. We're seeing the results.