Obama Urges ‘Leaders’ Not to Split Society with Online Biases

“It’s also by the way harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the Internet,” Obama said.


(Reuters) — Former President Barack Obama said the way people communicate via social media risked splintering society and leaders had to ensure the Internet did not cocoon users within their own biases.

“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet,” Obama said in an interview conducted by Britain’s Prince Harry, broadcast on BBC radio on Wednesday.

“One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities, they can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”

Obama has previously warned that social media platforms can lead people to make snap judgments about complex decisions, although he has refrained from criticizing his successor Donald Trump who regularly uses Twitter.

Obama said in the interview broadcast on Wednesday that social media should promote diverse views in a way that “doesn’t lead to a Balkanisation of our society” and moving online communities offline helped people to see that many issues were not as simple as they might seem in a chatroom.

“It’s also by the way harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the Internet,” he said.

“Meet in the pub…Meet at a place of worship. Meet in a neighborhood and get to know each other.”

Wedding Diplomacy?

Obama spoke to Harry in an interview conducted by the prince as a guest editor for BBC radio’s daily morning news show and focused on their shared interest in promoting causes. The interview took place in September.

Harry was asked by the BBC whether he would invite the Obamas to his wedding next year with actress Meghan Markle.

“I don’t know about that,” Harry said. “We haven’t put the invites or the guest list together. Who knows whether they are going to be invited or not. I wouldn’t want to ruin that surprise.”

The Sun newspaper said on Tuesday that British government officials had urged Harry not to invite the Obamas to his wedding for fear of angering Trump.

In the BBC interview, Obama spoke of being able to take a longer-term view on issues such as climate change.

“Take some of the tragedies that have happened recently, with hurricanes devastating first Houston and parts of Florida and now Puerto Rico,” he said.

“Today those aren’t my direct responsibilities but I can focus over the next 20 years in making sure that we don’t have more hurricanes and natural disasters that are accelerated as a consequence of climate change and the ability to focus long term I think is a great luxury.”

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  • I’m exercising my right to use social media to say to O’Bama what I wish I could say face-to-face: We listened to your bullsh*t for 8 long years– SHUT THE F*CK UP!

    Now he wants to talk about race?

    • Ignorant white people stll following the pied piper of dopes (trump) need clarity, not tacit approval through politeness. Politeness has gotten us where we are. Rampant law enforcement injustice. Extreme financial, educational and representation disparities, in every aspect of our society with no solution in sight.

      • If the hand of reconciliation and reconstruction is going to be extended, it has to come from the oppressor, not the oppressed. Obama is wrong.

        You can hold your breath for trump, McConnell, Wilbur Ross, the Goldman Sachs crew and Ryan to extend that hand, but I prefer to breathe.

        • “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., letter from a Birmingham jail.

    • Greg Thrasher

      Thanks for your passion here …. Obama was a weak and almost impotent leader for Black Americans as we confronted racism daily during his tenure

      Obama was a major disappointment in my collective … We found him almost worthless when it really mattered on Race issues for Black America

      One could opine his hollow persona augmented the racial ascension of Trump ‘s White Nationalism surge in America


      • Obama wasn’t a weak leader.

        “we?” You do not speak for me. As for as BLM goes, when your so called leaders of BLM call out their thugs for their violent behaviors during what is supposed to be peaceful protests, and march in the neighborhoods where Black-on-Black crime is rampant, then maybe, just maybe your voices will be listened to.

  • O’Bama, as a half breed, could have CHANGED the RACIAL CLIMATE in AmeriKKKa, but he was too much of a PAID PIPER to address all these other race-based issues for 8 gruelingb years. His limp-wrist diplomacy created the CLIMATE for tRump. Prince Harry won’t invite the O’Bamas because he has a lot more in common with tRump; I hope dirty Harry doesn’t wear a Nazi uniform to his wedding with a half-black psycho who would marry into such a racist, evil, genocidal family. They’re about as much royalty as I am, except they’re a family of royal fakes, murderers, child molesters, and possibly blood-sucking cannibals related to Vlad the Impaler.

    O’Bama could have changed the CLIMATE of police brutality against Blacks;
    -Changed the CLIMATE of double-digit unemployment
    – Changed the CLIMATE of Black-white relationships
    -Changed the CLIMATE of Draconian deportation abuses of people of color
    – Closed Guantanimo Bay
    -Changed the CLIMATE of hostility of Middle East and Arab nations toward neo-Imperialist AmeriKKKan actions, especially his high rate of drone murders.

    I wish that in the new year, all former presid*cks will SHUT UP. You already had your chance to f*ck up, so shut the f*ck up. You’ve created a monster in tRump, Mr. Obamination– he’s the OBNOXIOUS side of the same coin of your practiced TOO POLITE facade. tRump helped rich trust fund millionaires like you– enjoy your tax breaks.

    • @Jams – While some of your criticisms of Obama are a bit harsh(ly stated), with the exception of the reference to “double-digit unemployment”, I agree 100% with your “itemized” list of ways in which Obama failed to “Change the CLIMATE”.

      The reasons I disagree with characterizing his record on unemployment as a failure are:
      A. He actually improved the unemployment rate (of course some will argue was because a good number of people “permanently” dropped out of the labor market).
      B. He was unable to completely implement his economic agenda and policies due to unprecedented levels of obstruction by the GOP majorities in Congress. In my eyes, it was a wonder he was able to achieve ANY sort of economic success at all.

      Other than that, I would add that he was also:
      – Too solicitous and deferential to his political enemies
      – Too interested in pursuing policies such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for no other reason than to burnish his “legacy” (which is highly ironic given the fact that Trump is succeeding in undoing most of it anyway),
      – Too concerned with ruffling the feathers of those who hated him
      – Too tolerant of the unprecedented level of disrespect shown toward him and the office
      – Too unwilling to speak plainly and forcefully on matters of race/social/economic inequality and discrimination
      – Too preoccupied with trying to be “liked” by those who would just as soon spit in his face
      – Finally, to add obscenity on top of insult, because he was TOO politically gutless to raise the alarm about Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election on Trump’s behalf, for fear of being accused of “politicizing the election” by Mitch McConnell, his legacy will include being partially responsible for the infliction of a Trump “presidency” on the world. Right! That’s THE Mitch McConnell who’s never heard of a political dirty trick he didn’t like and/or was unwilling to use himself.

      As soon as McConnell made it clear that he was stealing his Supreme Court pick, Obama should have came out blazing with an announcement of the Russian meddling, and the naming of a special counsel to investigate it right then and there. Given those and other circumstances, he would have been MORE than justified in doing so.

      I understand that being the first black POTUS brought with it unique challenges, but NO job is worth selling your soul. And as such, because of all of the above and more, Obama’s tenure was barely distinguishable from that of a “moderate” white republican, and why it was in many ways for me personally, a bitter, bitter disappointment.

        • Obama could (should) have gone for the jugular.

          My point exactly!

          I sincerely hope that any personal animus he might have had for the Clintons, was not a factor in his dereliction of duty during the 2016 elections. If so, that would make him tinier and pettier than the buffoon-in-chief currently occupying the WH.

          That said, I do believe part of his calculation was that HRC “had it in the bag”, so that made his political cowardice more justifiable in his mind.

          Thanks for the links…I don’t know what’s more astonishing: The depth of the Russian influence in the affairs of the U.S., or that that
          influence is so blithely tolerated by a major political party and its supporters, who up until two years ago, were at the opposite extreme when it came to Russia?

          It’s incredible.

          • I’ve got to believe that Obama knew she was going to lose. I visited Hillary’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. Full of white kids. In Brooklyn (35% white). All tapping away on their phones. Remember election night? Clinton had Bruce Springsteen playing to an all white crowd my age (old and white) in Philly. She lost Pennsylvania by 0.7%. Philadelphia is less than 40% white. The polls had her up by 2.1%.

            I think Obama knew it because it’s how she lost to Obama in 2008, and her bloated ego causes her to never learn from a mistake. In her heart, it’s still 1992 and Black people are to be patted on the head, tolerated to some degree – and spoken to in some sort of cornbread phony accent.

            Rabid racists are far more motivated than disappointed progressives. Too many progressives of color stayed home last year. It took a first degree pervert to win in Alabama. The democrats still haven’t learned. They’re going to lose the midterms, just watch.

          • @Luke – “Too many progressives of color stayed home last year…The democrats still haven’t learned. They’re going to lose the midterms, just watch.”

            I fear that you are right, but pray that we are wrong.

      • I do agree with just about everything you wrote about Obama’s deficiencies. One thing that always irked me happened during his first term He wanted to send a message to the nations’ school children and requested that all school districts carry his message and that they would interrupt the school day to play his message. Unbelievably, some districts refused. I recall that feeling that he should have flexed then and there and let these people know that this was not a request, but a demand as POTUS. I recall that I and a few friends all thought that they would never disrespect the office of the President by refusing if he were white. Maybe if he let them know from jump who he was, all of the other slights that he endured would not have happened. He bent too much. I used to think that during his second term, knowing that he could not run again, that he would get more “gansta”. I am surprised that the Affordable Care Act got passed. I like Obama, but I am not blind to his short comings. I always thought that Michelle was the harder of the two.

          • its still not too late. Michelle would have to be convinced, but she and Oprah would slay! After all, the top democrats right now are all in the geriatric club – Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren- all over 70. Appeal to millennials and people of color. I read that pretty soon whites, due to declining birth rates, will be in the minority and even Arizona Rep. Flake has said that the GOP is becoming the party of old white men. And if the democrats are willing to work with grass root organizations, like they did in Alabama, maybe 2018 will work for them. Stop playing Springsteen at rallies and play Jay z!

          • Exactly. But I don’t see the political will to oust out-of-touch losers like Pelosi and Schumer. That’s why I think there’s a good chance for the rise of a third party following the victory of a left leaning outsider running as a Democrat in 2020. If the Clintons didn’t pull their superdelegate nonsense, Bernie would have been the nominee and I don’t think the Russians would have won against him.

          • “A Michelle-Oprah ticket would have swept.”

            Given the current racial environment, my initial inclination was to disagree that this would actually have been a viable ticket.

            However, in thinking about it, and realizing that the Dems with bigoted/racist/nativist inclinations were going to defect to Trump anyway, the difference in the election would have been the energized POC in the Democratic base.

            And you know what? Your’re right…It wouldn’t have been close.

        • “he should have flexed then and there and let these people know that this was not a request, but a demand as POTUS.”


          There were just soooooooo many examples of blatant disrespect and disregard tolerated by Obama that it makes me physically hot, just thinking about them. The one that makes me the hottest is that cadaverous former AZ Gov., Jan Brewer sneering and jabbing her skeletal finger in Obama’s face on the tarmac. Hell, even the Chinese disrespected him by not providing a red-carpeted staircase to exit AF1 on his last trip there; forcing him to exit from the bottom of the plane.

          I totally agree with you about Michelle. She didn’t play. She made a coupla hecklers STFU at a small gathering she was speaking at, by telling her hosts that either She will speak, or the hecklers can, but she “wasn’t going to do THIS!” Michelle don’t play! Lol.

    • I don’t believe i have ever read a positive comment from you Zazi. Is there anything you like or support?

  • Charity Dell

    Why should British officials be wary of “angering Trump?”
    He’s not a god.

  • Greg Thrasher

    Yawn….Obama was a counterproductive persona on racial leadership in America during his campaigns he would use Black Americans as pawns to appease the White Electorate

    Obama was a tragic disappointment and almost cowardly in his racial leadership

    I ignore him often now when he comments vaguely on Race as he did when he was POTUS


    • Tragic disappointment is BLM. BLM? Really? Today is January 8, 2018; I guarantee you the number of Black-on-Black murders in just one major city. that is predominantly Black, is greater than eight!

      Obama isn’t a coward because he prefers to practice diplomacy.

  • “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., letter from a Birmingham jail.

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