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Obama Warns Against Irresponsible Social Media Use ( 360

In his first interview since leaving the White House in January, former President Barack Obama spoke about the dangers of irresponsible use of social media. From a report on BBC: He warned that such actions were distorting people's understanding of complex issues, and spreading misinformation. "All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet," he said. 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.
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Obama Warns Against Irresponsible Social Media Use

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  • Said... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @10:45AM (#55814881)

    ...One of the most divisive Presidents in US history famous for his identity politics and class-warfare and attacks on political/ideological opponents using agencies of the Federal government like the IRS.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      " famous for his identity politics and class-warfare and attacks on political/ideological opponents"

      In your head, maybe
    • Re:Said... (Score:5, Informative)

      by giggleloop ( 5166293 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @10:58AM (#55814969)
      You can't really call him divisive just because the GOP blew all their dog whistles to ferment a fury of hatred from their minions... His policies were nothing approaching controversial and he had not a single scandal in his whole 8 years in the White House.
      • Re:Said... (Score:5, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:03AM (#55815009) Homepage Journal

        This is entirely accurate. Obama didn't create division himself, he didn't do identity politics either. That was all other people using him to create rage.

      • Re: Said... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:08AM (#55815051)

        he had not a single scandal

        Fast and Furious. Benghazi was not because of a film. The entire Syrian conflict, fuelled by the CIA and Pentagon. Drone strikes in how many countries across Africa, north Africa, the middle east, and central Asia?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by jellomizer ( 103300 )

          There is a different between Scandal and Bad Decisions.
          As president you often will need to make these no win decisions. And most of these were exaggerated by the GOP just because they were grasping for straws on making him the bad guy.

          • Re: Said... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:55AM (#55815469)

            Your guy makes 'bad decisions', the other side has 'scandals'. That is the 'different'.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Race relations are at an all time low partly because of Obama's support of false narratives like "hands up" and his disregard to law enforcement by taking sides before all the facts were known. He fostered the environment where white nationalists grew because he turned every criticism against him and his agenda as racist which in turned was used elsewhere in society. Everything is racist because Obama championed that winning tactic.

        His polices were controversial. Half the country didn't want Obamacare. Not

      • Re:Said... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @12:17PM (#55815691) Homepage Journal

        I warned my liberal friends back in 2008: Obama isn't some kind of leftist firebrand. He's a center-left moderate who will govern somewhere to the right of Richard Nixon, because basically he's a 60s era Republican "moderate".

        Liberals couldn't get over Obama's penchant for drone strikes; Obama never pursued an idealistic foreign policy which was ruled by *values*, although he talked a good game. He used military force freely to maintain the international status quo.

        On the environment he was unreliable. Yes, he expanded some protected areas, but he also quietly but aggressively promoted fracking and expanded domestic oil production -- to the point where the US is expected to become a net energy exporter soon. Again foreign policy was a driver; not only did Obama take America to the brink of energy independence, he also greatly curtailed Russian military spending by strangling their energy-based economy; by becoming a gas exporter the US also limited Russia's use of natural gas supply as leverage over Europe. This is why Putin hated Obama and Clinton so much.

        And his landmark health care reform? It was originally developed by Republican think tanks for Bob Dole's presidential campaign -- right down to the individual mandate. It not only maintained private health care delivery, it propped up the private insurance industry. It didn't even *have* a public option, which was the party left wing's line in the sand. He basically ignored them.

        But while policy-wise Obama pursued stability and continuity, politically he represented change, because of his race. It's kind of the flip side of the "only Nixon can go to China".

    • ...One of the most divisive Presidents in US history famous for his identity politics and class-warfare and attacks on political/ideological opponents using agencies of the Federal government like the IRS.

      C'mon man. It's puff, puff, pass.

    • At least Obama can talk and write like an educated, intelligent human being.

      Trump comes off sounding and acting like a stupid spoiled child.
    • by sjbe ( 173966 )

      ...One of the most divisive Presidents in US history famous for his identity politics and class-warfare and attacks on political/ideological opponents using agencies of the Federal government like the IRS.

      Thanks for self identifying as a far right republican. The only people who actually believe this are conspiracy minded loons who get all their news from Fox News or similar. I'm sure you genuinely wish all that were true but fortunately the facts do not actually support you. Obama was politically a moderate and your ideas about "identity politics" say far more about you and your beliefs than about his.

  • by Horatio_Hellpop ( 926706 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:02AM (#55815001)
    So ... we need a president to tell us that social media is made for narcisissm and is basically a loudspeaker for idiots.
    • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:18AM (#55815113)

      Yes, we do. We live in an age where the POTUS lashes out via Twitter on a daily basis.

    • Worse, this isn't even a "social media" or "Internet" problem. Are we doing to somehow enforce diversity and equal time for counter arguments at union halls? Fraternal organizations? Bars?

      People tend to congregate with the like-minded; unless one makes an effort to seek both sides of an issue then they will only get the one. Information bubbles and confirmation bias existed before the Internet and will exist after.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:05AM (#55815023) Journal

    People are little more than hairless chimps: we chatter and squeal (and sometimes kill) anyone we don't recognize as part of our in-group.

    We only have the intellectual capacity to identify a small number of individuals personally as part of that group; beyond that we build more ephemeral identities based on communicated reputation and shared biases to identify 'tribes' of commonality with whom we perceive a commonality of interest, at least in the categories of behavior and belief that we feel are personally important.

    Outside of THAT, we simply cannot know everyone individually; we base our expectations on stereotypes. What makes those stereotypes to enduring is that they are indeed based on FACT to a greater or larger degree - there is, for example, no stereotype that Asian men have 3 heads or that Muslims breathe water: unfortunately, the building of these stereotypes is rarely today based on personal experience, but on 'shared wisdom' which is just as likely to come from CNN or Breitbart as it is from someone trustworthy.

    Finally, this is coupled with a deeply-felt (but never actually proved?) faith in little-L liberal tenets of western civilization: that if we "just communicate more", if we "just understand each other better" we'll all get along better. SIMULTANEOUSLY we profess that people should be coerced as little as possible, that the ideal (in fact, the very essence of democracy) is freedom of choice for each self-aware individual.

    I don't believe our ideals are reconcilable with our fundamental animal natures without large scale dictatorial reprogramming. So there's the question: do we get to be ourselves and make free choices, or shall we embark on a Great Leap Forward where a beneficent overclass tells us all how to live so we can be happy?

    Frankly speaking: I think John Calhoun's experiments into mouse dystopias are far more predictive of the ultimate outcome of this experiment than some sort of idealized utopia of unicorns and rainbows where we all love each other.

    • by tomxor ( 2379126 )

      ...than some sort of idealized utopia of unicorns and rainbows where we all love each other

      It's not necessary or even preferable to for us to "all love each other" in order to progress and be civilised. Painting whatever the current system is as imperfect because it's not reaching something both undesirable and unattainable is the best example of a straw man i've ever seen (what a boring world it would be if we all got along perfectly).

      • Then by your reasoning (which I generally agree with, btw) Mr Obama should shut the fuck up?

        I mean, the internet is the PERFECT example of optimalized strife: anonymity and the lack of geographic proximity means we can be snarky bitches to each other as much as we want, WITHOUT the immediate and likely propensity for actual violence.

        It's not a bug, it's a feature. For all those people vaguely uncomfortable with people saying things they don't like on the interwebs, would they really prefer they be said in

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:06AM (#55815037)
    at the Democratic party, which basically ran Romney Bot 2.0, right down the the comment attacking the electorate and having $700 million pocketed by consultants who figured they already won.
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Or perhaps at Prez Twitter. Or anything else you want to read into it.
      Or perhaps just a general warning to be all aware of the dangers.

      What I read into it is a general warning to be aware of the dangers.

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:06AM (#55815043) Journal
    It's difficult for me to admit, but this comment is lucid and downright Presidential compared to what comes out of the Oval Office currently.
    • It's difficult for me to admit, but this comment is lucid and downright Presidential compared to what comes out of the Oval Office currently.

      Talk about damning with faint praise.

  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @11:17AM (#55815105)

    The contrast with the current administration is so depressingly stark...

    • Yeah, he used "Balkanisation" properly. However, he would never ever stereotype African Americans or Hispanics the same way...but stereotyping people from the Balkans is OK. Based on one decade of history (the 1990s). Of course people of Balkan origin in the USA are not a recognized identity politics group with activists to scream "discrimination!", so it's OK.

  • Intelligent people understand that Social Media has devolved into nothing more than a bullshit generator, and should be considered for entertainment purposes only.

    Stupid people define Social Media as their only source of information, and it aligns directly with their own values due to targeted manipulation (also known as "advertising")

    The real problem is Social Media has become stupidly profitable. Clicks are far more valuable than facts, which tends to validate how ignorance has taken over critical thoug

  • are no different than Government ones outside of the fact that one is approved for distribution and the other is not.

    Here's the thing: We've reached the point where neither source is very trustworthy for information, so Obama warning against Social Media issues is akin to a Pot vs Kettle discussion.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @12:23PM (#55815735)

    Practice safe text!

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @12:26PM (#55815767)

    So he's talking about media then, not social media.

    Yeah, that is bad traditional media! Bad Media! Stop it.

  • The very height of irresponsible.

  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @01:30PM (#55816285) Homepage

    ...then you're one weird American. Nobody else does. But as long as we're standing on the sidelines, hands in pockets, could we ask politely for some particulars: concrete policy, enforcement, or regulatory examples, of how Obama was all specially kind to American black people?

    The "identity politics" of *saying* something nice are typically used to avoid doing much, and are often seen as a bullshit gesture. Here in Canada we appointed an Inuk (Leona Aglukkaq) as a federal minister, but she eventually failed reelection, because the Conservative government she represented forced her to take unpopular positions in her far-north riding (Nunavut). Her government was happy to have her as a face popular with northern people, but didn't change any policies because of her presence in the cabinet.

    Under Obama, I'm at a loss to think of a regulation that was changed, or enforced less or more, that advantaged black people. They didn't appear to get arrested any less, killed any less, their communities didn't seem to get any more money. He didn't hand out a disproportionate number of government jobs to blacks. They didn't receive any special treatment that got them out of more mortgage foreclosures than white people (Neil Barofsky was pretty plain that Obama's Tim Geither only cared about the banks, didn't help *any* foreclosure victims.)

    Welfare and food stamp rules didn't change - more people *needed* them because of the giant bank collapse and 10 million tossed out of work, but most of those people were still white. This question cuts both ways: why would black people vote for him so monolithically? What the hell did he DO for them, except psychologically?

    People appear, from afar, to act as if Obama offering a few, purely verbal, opinions, was some great act, when none of them actually *DID* anything. Saying that Trayvon Martin looked like him didn't change any policing rules or persecute any cops. The Henry Gates cop still has a job and is now friendly with Gates. More briefly, "nothing happened".

    Curious just now for how to end this question, I tried just googling "obama divisive identity" and grabbed the top link, a full article on same by a guy who'd appeared on Hannity in 2012. It has a long bullet-point list of his Obama-is-divisive grievances: [] ...and I could see only two that were about concrete actions that changed government spending, my personal touchstone for words-vs-works. The other 20+ were all just things that Obama *said*.
    (The two were "passing ObamaCare", which he'd run upon, and something about the auto bailout, which I could have sworn was popular at the time, certainly with mostly-white auto workers.)

    Honestly, if you can't find policy changes, laws, regulations that caused harm, can't you let it go about what speeches or off-the-cuff remarks he makes? They don't hurt anything.

    I also raise the issue because this goes, I dunno, not just double, maybe "octuple" for Trump. He mostly *says* things that offend his opponents, but if you had two different sections of the paper, the front page for things Trump *did* and the back page for "crap the President said today", the front page would need almost no space.

    • why would black people vote for him so monolithically? What the hell did he DO for them, except psychologically?

      It's not just what he did for them psychologically, although you shouldn't discount the importance of that. It's also what he did to their enemies. He shook their feelings of security. We had some years of relative quiet from the racist gallery. Since Trump has been elected, it's worse than before. Underprivileged groups everywhere are suffering for the emboldenment of the Trumpanistas.

      • Not at all -- the racist gallery was extremely loud and offensive during Obama's presidency. Witness the personal attacks on Obama's family, Photoshopping his wife and kids as animals, questioning his birth, etc. However, the fact that he and his family managed to maintain poise and decorum despite this nastiness spoke to his strength.
  • ... is on the part of the social media -- not the users of same.

  • Slashdot is social media.

    In my opinion the worst of it comes from the main stream media.

    I distinctly remember Obama using the main stream media to spread misinformation about what Snowden disclosed about his mass surveillance on the American people.

    I postulate that Obama is priming people for the 2018 elections in hopes of stagnating the anti-Democrat outcry that will inevitably rear its head and spread via social media.

    The mainstream media is liberal and social media can be anything. It is easier to contr

  • Let us not forget Obama created a cocoon of his own, branding conservatives "bitter clingers," denying the IRS scandal, and presenting misinformation about the attack in Benghazi, Libya. And there was that disastrous Iran deal...

    Trump may be dividing America worse than Obama did, but that doesn't mean Obama was guiltless.

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