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Obama White House/Flickr (Public Domain)
Obama didn’t mention Trump by name.
Obama said that “all of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet,” which many assumed to be a reference to America’s current president, Donald Trump, who has a penchant for using Twitter to make divisive statements.
In the interview, which came as Prince Harry guest hosted the BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Obama warned about the perils of the internet and how it is distorting human relationships.
“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. 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,” Obama said, referring to the splintering of the former republic of Yugoslavia, and the decades of war that ensued.
He also suggested it may help, just a bit, for people to log off.
“Social media is a really powerful tool for people of common interests to convene and get to know each other and connect,” Obama added. “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.”
Obama’s interview came as a royal family drama has swirled over invitations to Prince Harry’s wedding. According to reports, Prince Harry, who is close with Obama, wants to have the former president attend his wedding to Meghan Markle. However, because Trump has yet to make a state visit to England, there is concern that inviting Obama but not Trump would be seen as disrespectful to the current U.S. president.
During the runup to the 2016 election, though, Markle spoke out against Trump, calling him “misogynistic.”
A former English diplomat told the Telegraph that it would be a “surprise” if Trump was extended an invite.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]