- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Former President Barack Obama said Wednesday that leaders should use social media responsibly and not rely on it exclusively.

Without mentioning President Trump, Mr. Obama told Britain’s Prince Harry on BBC Radio that social media can spread misinformation and distort people’s understanding of issues.

“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet,” Mr. Obama said in an interview recorded earlier. “One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”

It was a rare interview for Mr. Obama since leaving the White House last January. He said people need to blend their social media use with regular face-to-face contact.

“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,” Mr. Obama said.

While in office, Mr. Obama was the first president to start a Twitter account, although he used it far less frequently than Mr. Trump has done.

Mr. Obama added, “Social media is a really powerful tool for people of common interests to convene and get to know each other and connect. But then it’s important for them to get offline, meet in a pub, meet at a place of worship, meet in a neighborhood and get to know each other. Because the truth is that on the internet, everything is simplified and when you meet people face-to-face it turns out they’re complicated.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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