If I were a Democrat surveying the Big Tech and social media landscape of 2022, what would I possibly say? Best thing I could think of: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Not Barack Obama, though. Nosiree. For the second time in a month, the former president made a clarion call to Silicon Valley to become more active in censoring what he termed disinformation and telling companies to “fix the problem that they in part helped create.”
(This comes as Big Tech routinely censors conservative voices, including The Western Journal. We’re not going to bow to their influence, however, no matter how much Silicon Valley tries to starve conservative publishers of ad revenue. If you support our news and analysis, please consider subscribing.)
According to The Hill, Obama used a Thursday speech at Stanford University in California to argue that our information systems are “turbocharging some of humanity’s worst impulses.”
Part of this, he said, was the “veil of anonymity” that being online produces.
However, the former president’s finger was mostly pointed at Big Tech.
“But not all problems we’re seeing now are an inevitable byproduct of this new technology,” Obama said.
“They’re also the result of very specific choices, made by the companies that have come to dominate the internet generally, and social media platforms in particular,” he said. “Decisions that intentionally or not have made democracies more vulnerable.”
What’s made democracies more vulnerable, you may ask? He proffered as examples false information about COVID-19 and vaccines, Russia’s disinformation campaign prior to its Ukrainian invasion and what he characterized as conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
“People like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and Steve Bannon, for that matter, understand it’s not necessary for people to believe this information in order to weaken democratic institutions. You just have to flood a country’s public square with enough raw sewage,” Obama said.
“You just have to raise enough questions, spread enough dirt, plant enough conspiracy theorizing, that citizens no longer know what to believe.”
Obama: “People like Putin, and Steve Bannon for that matter, understand it’s not necessary for people to believe disinformation… You just have to flood a country’s public square with enough raw sewage.” pic.twitter.com/5XGXgfEQtA
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) April 21, 2022
That sounds all well and good. Here’s the line that should have sounded klaxons in everyone’s heads:
“Once they lose trust in their leaders, mainstream media, in political institutions, in each other, the possibility of truth — the game’s won.”
Ah yes — that’s where we’re going.
See, for the Democrats, the role of social media and Big Tech is to legitimize trust in leaders (provided those leaders aren’t Republicans), in political institutions (unless the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade), in mainstream media (unless that mainstream media is the New York Post reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop in the month before the 2020 presidential election) and the possibility of truth (unless that truth involves that men are men and women are women, and no surgery can change chromosomal makeup).
That, apparently, is what Big Tech isn’t doing enough of — and on Thursday, Obama said that if it doesn’t get with the program, he would advocate what The Hill called “a multipronged approach to combat disinformation — including from government reform, tech employee-led change and a shift in the way users consume news and information online.”
“At the end of the day the internet is a tool, social media is a tool. At the end of the day, tools don’t control us. We control them. And we can remake them,” Obama said.
“These companies need to have some other north star other than just making money and increasing market share. Fix the problem that in part they helped create, but also to stand for something bigger.”
Presumably for something exceedingly similar to what the former president stands for.
This is the second time in a month Obama has called on Big Tech to do more to control the flow of information so that Americans will put their trust in the right kind of mainstream media, politician and political viewpoint.
On April 6, speaking at the University of Chicago, the former president said there was “a demand for crazy on the internet” that needed to be stamped out via “a combination of regulatory measures and industry norms.”
During that speech, Obama noted Russians were unable to see information from abroad about the country’s military campaign in Ukraine because of social media censorship.
“If that’s true in our society, imagine how any of us would process information if we are not getting, seeing, anything else?” he said.
“It is difficult for me to see how we can win the contest of ideas if, in fact, we are not able to agree on a baseline of facts that allow the marketplace of ideas to work.”
After that speech, one might be forgiven if Obama’s speechwriters forgot about how information regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop was actively censored on social media in the weeks before the 2020 election in order to help his father, Democrat Joe Biden, win the presidency.
This is the second time, however, where he talked about Big Tech restoring trust in the mainstream media without mentioning the elephant in the room: They quashed the biggest story of the last leg of the 2020 race and pretended it was disinformation.
A year-and-a-half later, we’re finally getting major outlets acknowledging the contents of the laptop are real and shed disturbing light on Hunter Biden’s financial dealings — dealings that may have involved his father.
I understand that’s a messy fact for Obama to deal with, but from his rhetoric on Thursday and on April 6, we can only assume the former president doesn’t think that calculated and collusive outrage eroded trust in mainstream media. That speaks volumes.
Big Tech acts as a de facto arm of the Democratic Party — and Barack Obama still thinks it’s not doing enough to filter information. Yet he wonders aloud why people don’t just don’t have faith in liberal institutions anymore.
That’s one way to answer your own question, I suppose.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.