Imagine a former president of the United States completely disregarding our First Amendment rights....
Oh wait! You don't have to imagine.
Former President Barack Obama gave a speech on Thursday in which he called for more regulation of social media content, declaring that the First Amendment doesn't apply to Facebook and Twitter.
Obama began by stating that he is a “pretty close to a First Amendment absolutist” but then went to explaining exactly the opposite.
“The First Amendment is a check on the power of the state. It doesn’t apply to private companies like Facebook and Twitter,” he said. “While content moderation can limit the distribution of clearly dangerous content, it doesn’t go far enough."
Dangerous content? I think he means opinions that clash with his.
“[O]ver time we lose our capacity to distinguish between fact, opinion, and wholesale fiction. Or maybe we just stop caring,” Obama continued. “Our brains aren’t accustomed to taking in this much information this fast, and a lot of us are experiencing overload."
Obama warned that dangerous people were using social media to distract the public.
“People like Putin and Steve Bannon for that matter understand it’s not necessary for people to believe disinformation in order to weaken democratic institutions, you just have to flood the public square with enough raw sewage,” he complained.
Exactly. People who do not agree with his opinions.
The former president argued for a series of social media reforms and regulation, warning the nature of democracy itself was at stake.
He complained there was no way to distinguish online between “a peer-reviewed article by Dr. Anthony Fauci and a miracle cure pitched by a huckster.”
The wide variety of content on the coronavirus and vaccines, Obama said, was concerning, as some people chose not to get vaccinated.
“People are dying because of misinformation,” he added, and then laid out the following set of principals for social media:
Whether it strengthens or weakens the prospects for a healthy inclusive democracy.
Whether it encourages robust debate and respect for our differences.
Whether it reinforces rule of law and self-governance.
Whether it helps us make collective decisions based on the best available information.
Whether it recognizes the rights and freedoms and dignity of all of our citizens.
“Regulation has to be part of the answer,” Obama concluded.
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