Why are most government employees not being honest?

Obama Speech: Should Social Media Content Be Regulated?

Frankly, in most cases, when a former head of state like Barack Obama gives a speech at a university, it's not particularly exciting. Unless it is kept completely secret for inexplicable reasons. That is exactly what happened in a recent Obama speech at MIT. The US magazine Reason but now there is a recording of the speech. In it, Obama says among other things: The content in social networks should be controlled and regulated.

Former US President Barack Obama recently gave a speech at a major sports analysis conference at MIT. Although Obama said nothing shocking, the speech was kept completely secret.

Visitors were not allowed to take photos, record videos, tweet anything and the journalists present were not allowed to report on the speech.

The US magazine Reason, which writes on subjects like freedom of expression, somehow managed to get a recording of the Obama speech. The reporters listened to the entire recording and then asked themselves: What was the secrecy about?

Obama speech: Absolutely secret and absolutely unspectacular? Not quite!

Obviously, Obama didn't say anything exciting or spectacular, so for Reason the secrecy was actually the most exciting news of the Obama speech.

While it's true that Obama didn't say anything surprising by and large (everyone knows he's a basketball fan by now, and there's no need to comment on the statement that government employees are not as lazy as many think), is encouraging part of his speech on the role of social networks in our society for thought.

Obama said in his speech that social media platforms have the potential to do a lot of good. At the same time, however, they are essentially just a tool, a means to an end that can just as easily be misused.

On the one hand, campaigns like #metoo trigger important social debates. On the other hand, terrorist organizations also deliberately post propaganda videos on Facebook or YouTube.

It has also become clear in German-speaking countries how right-wing populist movements and parties can use social media channels for their own purposes.

The danger of the Fox News Bubble

For Obama, these negative scenarios seem to predominate. As an example, he cited how completely opposite realities are sometimes reflected on social networks. Different opinions are not discussed, but fundamental, long-established facts are called into question.

Here Obama was surprisingly direct: “It's not just because of how the Russians inspired bots and fake news. This is Fox News versus The New York Times. "

The TV broadcaster Fox News belongs to the Fox News Entertainment Group and thus one of the conservative media houses in the USA. The station has been repeatedly criticized because it likes to adjust facts for its reporting in a way that politically suits the publishers.

The New York Times, with its liberal, deliberately fact-based reporting, is exactly on the other spectrum.

What Obama did not say directly with this comparison, but clearly indicated: The questionable news on Fox News is THE (only) source of information for many conservative US citizens and Trump supporters.

From these "messages" they put together their own twisted worldview. In the USA this even has its own name, the Fox News Effect or the Fox News Bubble.

The problem for Obama with this bubble is not that you have opposing opinions, but that an alternative, non-fact-based worldview is emerging on social networks, which - without intervention - can wreak havoc.

Should you censor content on social networks?

What can you do about it? Of course, like in China, governments could easily determine which version of the truth the social media platforms publish.

But that is not what democracies like the USA are or where they want to go, stressed Obama. He pointed out, however, that the US government would have to establish “basic rules” in order to guide the direction and the rules of the game for social networks.

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In addition, Obama also made it clear that Facebook, Twitter, Google & Co. should no longer be allowed to shirk their responsibility so easily. “These platforms need to chat about their business model and recognize that they are both a public good and a commercial company. They are not just an invisible platform. They have a huge impact on how our culture is shaped. "

The message to the social networks is clear: stop hiding behind your business model and take social responsibility for what happens on your platforms!

Is Obama Right? Do social networks have to take responsibility for the content posted on their platforms or would that be censorship? We look forward to your opinions on this.

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