New Delhi: Stressing upon the need to regulate the Internet to save democracies, former US President Barack Obama said on Friday that while more people are being connected than ever, the new information age is also helping terrorists, tyrants and bad elements prosper and propel their propaganda.
“Technology is bridging the gap in the developing world. More and more people are being connected via devices but there is a dangerous side to this sudden spurt of technology. Various online platforms are now feeding people with bad news,” Obama said during his speech at the HT Leadership Summit here.
“If not controlled, the surge in technology including social media platforms can lead people to adopt isolationism and sectarianism and, finally, alienate them. It is dangerous and can create havoc in mature democracies which are already grappling with how to handle this situation,” Obama told the gathering.
Later, in a question and answer session, Obama said that platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp are powerful information tools which can be used either for good or ill.
“Young generations are spending a lot of time, absorbing so much on these platforms. They need to be taught how to handle the information flow as new technology can create information silos and leav them in their own bubbles,” Obama said.
The dependency on social media, the former US President stressed, can lead to formulate snap judgments which are not ideal for the world.
“Even psychologists now say that quick, snap judgements taken over social media platforms can do more harm than good,” he told the gathering.
In a speech at his adopted hometown of Chicago early this year, Obama spoke about filter bubbles and the dangers of fragmentation on social media.
“For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighbourhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions,” Obama had said.
“Increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there,” Obama had warned.