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Barack Obama calls for stricter regulation of social media


Barack Obama

The former US president, a former darling of Big Tech, accuses platforms of promoting disinformation and cites European regulations as an example.

Obama is attacking social media. The former US president gave a rather sharp speech at a conference organized by his foundation and the Stanford Cyber Policy Center on the challenges of digital transformation for democracy.

He accused these platforms of contributing to the polarization of society because of the very way they are designed. "In the competition between truth and falsehood, cooperation and conflict, the very design of these platforms seems to be tipping us in the wrong direction. And we see the results," he said, citing attempts at manipulation by Putin or Steve Banon. No need for people to adhere to fake news, he said. It is enough that it sows trouble and the population no longer knows who to believe in.

Barack Obama is advocating for regulation that would ensure competition and the ability of new entrants to break through. He also believes that platforms should be transparent about their algorithms and that this would not force them to reveal trade secrets. Finally, he regretted that social networks had accelerated the decline of newspapers and other traditional sources of information.

The former president of Big Tech

The former US president has not always been so the giants of the web, quite the contrary. Rather, he fostered their development during his two terms. It must also be said that he is considered the first candidate to have relied so much on digital tools to conduct his campaigns and then communicate when he was in power. He also acknowledged that social networks played a big role in his election.

The divorce between the White House and GAFAM occurred under Donald Trump, who used these platforms extensively to manipulate public opinion and spread fake news. Not to mention Russia's interference in its presidential election and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Faced with attempts to moderate social networks, Trump had constantly questioned their neutrality and intended to bring them to heel. But the Capitol riots in January 2021 and his compromise on it ended up getting him banned from major services.

Laws in preparation for Congress

Obama's statements come as Congress works on a series of laws to regulate the tech market. The protection of competition, personal data and the privacy of users are at stake. The sea snake of section 230 has also resurfaced. Since 1996, this text has guaranteed content hosts not to be held responsible for content published by Internet users. Donald Trump had wanted to repeal it without having time. He accused Section 230 of allowing social networks to censor conservatives. For his part, Barack Obama made it clear that he was not "convinced that the total repeal of Article 230 is the solution," as CNBC reports.

In Europe, regulation is much more advanced since the continent can already rely on the GDPR and competition will be better guaranteed thanks to the Digital Markets Act. An imminent agreement on the Digital Services Act is now expected to redefine the responsibilities of the services and further protect their users. Obama cited European initiatives as an example.

Source: CNBC

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