Obama warns: platforms are steering us in the wrong direction24. April 2022
Obama warns: platforms are steering us in the wrong direction
New York, 4/24/2022
Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday called for greater oversight of the technology industry to combat the spread of disinformation on social media.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center, Obama said tech companies need to be more transparent about their operations, including how their content promotion algorithms work.
Obama said the discussion about disinformation is often about the content that people publish. But the bigger issue is “what content these platforms are promoting.”
The platforms are designed to “steer us in the wrong direction,” Obama said. Conspiracies and misinformation are not new to humanity, he said, but they threaten and weaken democracy through online amplification.
Obama said lawmakers need to consider reforms – but not necessarily a full repeal – of Section 230, the law that protects tech platforms from liability for content posted by users and gives them the right to moderate content as they see fit.
Tech companies also need another “north star” to guide them beyond making profits and increasing market share, the former president said.
He told Stanford students they could advocate for change and be part of that reshaping or “vote with their feet and work with companies that are trying to do the right thing.”