Former US president Barack Obama has warned against using social media in a divisive way during an interview with Britain’s Prince Harry. Barack Obama said he was concerned social media was “corroding civil discourse”, in what he said was his first interview since leaving the White House, aired earlier today.
The prince opened the discussion by saying: “This is the first interview you’ve said ‘yes’ to doing since you handed over the reins”, to which Obama replied: “that’s true”.
Mr. Obama, 56, did not mention his successor in the White House by name, but many will see the comments as a thinly veiled rebuke aimed at US President Donald Trump.
During the interview, Mr. Obama said there was a danger of people becoming stuck in their biases due to social media use.
“One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities,” he told the prince, who was guest editing BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases. Things aren’t as simple as they’ve been portrayed in whatever chat room you’ve been in,” he added.
“The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground.”
‘And, I’m not sure government can legislate that, but what I do believe is that all of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet.
President Donald Trump has drawn widespread criticism for the way he uses Twitter to attack opponents, and condemn what he brands ‘fake news’.
The interview was recorded in Toronto, Canada, in September on the sidelines of the Invictus Games, the athletic tournament created by Prince Harry for wounded former soldiers.
Despite admitting concern over the future of the US, Obama said he felt a sense of “serenity” on leaving the White House.
“There was a sense that we had run a good race,” he added.
On his new routine, Obama told the prince: “I wake up later; it’s wonderful to be able to control your day.”
Prince Harry’s interview with Obama was played just after 8.30am.
At the end of the 40-minute chat, the fifth in line to the throne fired questions at Obama asking him who he preferred, ‘William or Harry’.
He joked: ‘William, right now.’
Harry also asked him which popular US television show he preferred out of legal drama “Suits” – the programme which features his fiancée Meghan Markle – or “The Good Wife”.
And to his delight he answered: ‘Suits, obviously’ with Harry replying: ‘Great, great, great answer.’
Prince Harry is due to marry his US actress girlfriend Megan Markle on May 19, 2018 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle near London.
At the end of the show, Harry would not say whether Obama will be invited to his May 2018 wedding to American actress Meghan Markle, saying the guest list hadn’t been drawn up yet.
However, according to British press reports, civil servants are concerned that a wedding invite from the couple to Obama could cause a further rift between Britain and Trump following a series of recent high-profile spats.