Former US President Barack Obama has warned against the irresponsible use of social media, in a rare interview with Britain’s Prince Harry since stepping down in January.
He warned that such actions were distorting people’s understanding of complex issues, and spreading misinformation. His successor Donald Trump is a prolific user of Twitter, but Mr Obama did not mention him by name.
Obama was quizzed by Prince Harry on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Prince Harry, fifth in line to the throne, is one of several prominent figures who are guest-editing the program over the Christmas period.
The ex-president said those in positions of power should be careful when posting messages, warning that social media is distorting civil discourse. He 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.