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President Barack Obama criticized social media outlets for filling what he calls a ‘demand for crazy’ and spreading disinformation in a way that he said he’s underestimated.
‘I do think that there is a demand for crazy on the internet that we have to grapple with,’ Obama said.
While praising how easily available information had become in the United States, he did say it led people to mass belief of conspiracy theories.
‘Roughly 40 percent of the country appears convinced that the current president was elected fraudulently and that the election was rigged’ he noted, with about 30-35 percent not taking advantage of vaccines for Covid-19, which he called a ‘medical miracle’ that had been clinically tested out by a billion people.
President Barack Obama criticized social media outlets for filling what he calls a ‘demand for crazy’ and spreading disinformation
Though Obama took a swipe at journalists as well, he said that the destruction of local media and the rise of news through big tech and social media have ‘exacerbated making democracy more difficult.’
The former president appeared to be citing a Axios-Momentive poll from January which found that 40% of Americans still do not believe Joe Biden is the legitimate winner of his 2020 election against Trump.
Obama took a swipe at journalists as well, saying that the destruction of local media and the rise of news through big tech and social media have ‘exacerbated making democracy more difficult.’
He made the point of comparison to how Russians were unable to see any information about their invasion of Ukraine.
‘If that’s true in our society, imagine how any of us would process information if we are not getting, seeing, anything else? It is difficult for me to see how we can win the contest of ideas if, in fact, we are not able to agree on a baseline of facts that allow the marketplace of ideas to work.’
Obama cited things like rule of law, freedom of press and conscience, independent judiciaries, fair and free elections as issues where there needed to be agreement.
Biden, and former President Barack Obama listen to US Vice President Kamala Harris (out of frame) speak on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid in the East Room of the White House
US Vice President Kamala Harris, US President Joe Biden, and former President Barack Obama arrive to deliver remarks on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid in the East Room
He then tied it into a growing laziness from people operating on behalf of democracies and that it led to the invasion.
‘We have gotten complacent. And I cannot guarantee that as a consequence of what has happened that we are shaking off that complacency,’ he said.
The former president noted that he was always ‘ruthless’ but seemed not to recognize Putin after spending years meeting with him on the world seen.
‘I don’t know that the person is the same as the person who is now leading this charge,’ Obama said of Putin. ‘For him to bet the farm this way? I would not have predicted it from five years ago.’
Obama, who was president during the 2014 invasion of Crimea by Putin, said he was ‘encouraged’ by the actions the west had taken against the invasion this time around versus his efforts eight years ago.