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Obama warns against the perils of social media

Former US President Barack Obama has warned against the perils of consuming news only through social media at a conference in New Delhi, India.

Speaking to a group of young Indian leaders, Obama recognised that “instead of deep analysis and evaluation”, users on platforms like Twitter were instead “skimming the surface”, according to Time Magazine.

The former president has been vocal about his qualms with social media before — he warned of how dangerous a recorded past could be earlier this year — but his comments are well-timed to criticise US President Donald Trump who recently retweeted incendiary videos from a far-right party in the UK.

The videos united British politicians, including Prime Minister Theresa May, against Trump’s actions.

Former US President Obama warned against making “snap judgements about complex decisions”

Obama avoided discussing the topic directly, and instead discussed the danger of echo chambers and making “snap judgements about complex decisions” — as, it can be argued, Trump did when he retweeted the Islamophobic videos claiming to show a Muslim migrant attacking a disabled boy.

When asked if the videos were real, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that it didn’t matter if they were real; all that mattered was that the threat was real.

Obama isn’t the only democratic leader to criticise social media.

Earlier this year, Theresa May brought attention to how terrorist organisations used the web to spread their messages. And in March, South Africa’s own Minister of State Security David Mahlobo hinted at the possibility of social media regulation in an attempt to counter “false narratives”, prompting the Twitter trend #HandsOffSocialMedia.

Feature image: Marc Nozell via Flickr (CC BY 2.0, edited)

Author | Julia Breakey

Julia Breakey
Julia is a UCT film graduate with a passion for dogs, media, and dog-centric media. If she's not gushing about the new television show that you need to watch, she's rewatching The Good Place (which you need to watch). More

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