The invention of the internet has allowed people from all parts of the world to connect on over a million different topics and share knowledge. However, in doing so, it also has paved the way for misinformation to spread rapidly.
Organizations such as QAnon or people who believed that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential elections that ultimately led the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are just a few examples of the consequences that occurred following the spread of misinformation.
Former President Barack Obama recently spoke on the rise of this phenomena during the American Library Association’s annual conference on Tuesday, June 29, captured by CNN, expressing that it “worries” him deeply as he has foreseen this during his eight-year presidency with former President Donald Trump, “one of the perpetrators,” “not the originator” of encouraging sentiments that spoke against him.
“One of the perpetrators of that, not the originator of it, but somebody who surfed that for their own advantage was my successor, Donald Trump,” he said. Trump had often spoken out against Obama, whether it was critiquing his presidency or questioning the validity of his American citizenship during the infamous “birther” scandal.
“And we saw how powerful the constellation of conservative media outlets, talk radio, and then, ultimately, all this gets turbocharged with social media, how powerful that is,” Obama told secretary of the Smithsonian and moderator Lonnie Bunch.
However, 44 suggested the idea of rules and guidelines that both parties could agree upon for the betterment of the nation’s political institutions.
During the closing session, the former politician stated, “But to see not only a riot in the Capitol around what historically had been a routine process of certifying an election but to know that one of our two major political parties, a strong majority of people in this party, actually believed in a falsehood about those election results, the degree to which misinformation is now disseminated at warp speed in coordinated ways that we haven’t seen before.”
He continued, “And that the guardrails I thought were in place around many of our democratic institutions really depend on the two parties agreeing to those ground rules and that one of them right now doesn’t seem as committed to them as in previous generations, that worries me.” The former president pressed, “And I think we should all be worried.”
Obama said, now the question remains, “how do we get back to a place where all of us, as citizens, at least agree on certain baseline facts and certain core principles around how elections work?” He added, “There are certain things like that, that right now, are frayed.”