They were at the heart of his presidential campaigns, but he is now calling for them to be regulated: former US President Barack Obama spoke at the prestigious Californian university, in the heart of Silicon Valley, for almost an hour, Thursday April 21. He blamed major social media platforms for greatly amplifying “the worst instincts of humanity. One of the major causes of the weakening of democracies is the profound change in our ways of communicating and informing ourselves..
The Democratic leader admitted that he would not have “may not have been elected” without sites like MySpace or Facebook.
For Barack Obama, the economic model of Facebook and YouTube – large-scale targeted advertising – is based on the attention economy. “It is, unfortunately, content that is inflammatory, polarizing, attracts attention and encourages participation” users.
“This must be our alarm bell to react”
The former president (2009-2017) also dwelt on the phenomenon of disinformation and blamed himself for not having sufficiently realized “how receptive we had become to lies and conspiracy theories” before the election of Donald Trump, who succeeded him.
‘We just saw a sitting president deny clear election results and help incite a violent insurgency against the nation’s capital’he said, referring to 45e President of the United States, who did not recognize Joe Biden’s victory at the end of 2020 and encouraged his supporters before the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which left several dead.
Barack Obama therefore called for a reform of the laws that govern social networks, so that they are more accountable and more transparent, explaining that the problem at the heart of disinformation was less “what people post” what “the content that these platforms promote”.
The proof, according to him, that they are not “neutral” and that algorithms should be subject to safety checks by a regulatory authority, just like cars, food and other consumer products. Before concluding in front of the Stanford students: “The tools don’t control us. We can control them. »