President Obama calls out ‘Big Tech’ for their culpability in spreading mis and disinformation: ‘Democracy will wither’

“Do we allow our democracy to wither, or do we make it better?” Obama asked. “That is the choice.”

President Obama spoke at Stanford University in CA, the heart of ‘Big Tech,’ and called them out for their role in enabling the spread of mis and disinformation on their platforms. The address came as Obama has increasingly focused his post-presidential messaging on misinformation and what should be done about the largely unchecked power wielded by big tech.

A few keynotes from his speech:

  • ‘People are dying because of disinformation’
    • Called attention to the grave impacts of disinformation and misinformation – including manipulation of the 2016 and 2020 elections and the rise of anti-vaccination sentiments.
    • Regrets he could not have done more to have prevented Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election, which resulted in the Worst President Ever (TFG) becoming president.
    • Obama endorsed the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act, a bill introduced by US Senators Chris Coons, Amy Klobuchar and Rob Portman that would require social media companies to share certain platform data and allow vetting from independent researchers.

The Guardian:

“This is an opportunity, it’s a chance that we should welcome for governments to take on a big important problem and prove that democracy and innovation can coexist,” Obama said.

The former president lent his support to proposals to revise a key legal shield for internet companies: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media platforms from liability for content that their users post. Supporters of a change believe it would force companies to do more to curb illegal or dangerous behavior — from drug sales to disinformation with equally harmful consequences.

Mr. Obama, while praising the internet’s transformative benefits, urged companies to put social responsibility ahead of the relentless quest for profits.

“These companies need to have some other North Star than just making money and increasing profit shares,” he said.

NYT:

The full one hour speech is featured below:

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