During a discussion with the Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, former President Barack Obama called for increased internet censorship to deal with threats posed by “disinformation.” Among the proposed changes was a crackdown on internet anonymity.
“I do think that there is a demand for crazy on the internet that we have to grapple with,” Obama said. He later referenced a “systematic effort to either promote false information, to suppress true information, for the purpose of political gain, financial gain, enhancing power, suppressing others, targeting those you don’t like.”
In order to deal with this, Obama proposed an increase of government regulations and an active role from big tech companies to combat the supposed threat. “I think it is reasonable for us as a society to have a debate and then to put in place a combination of regulatory measures and industry norms that leave intact the opportunity for these platforms to make money, but say to them that there’s certain practices you engage in that we don’t think are good for our society,” Obama said of social media companies.
On the topic of anonymity, the former President called for increased regulation. “In some circumstances, it’s important to preserve anonymity so that there’s space in repressive societies to discuss issues,” Obama said. “But as we’ve all learned, it’s a lot harder to be rude, obnoxious, cruel, or lie when somebody knows you’re lying and knows who you are. And I think that there may be modifications there that can be made.”
Obama went on to argue against Section 230 reform. “I don’t know that entirely eliminating Section 230 protections from liability is necessary,” the former president said.
“Roughly 40 percent of the country appears convinced that the current president was elected fraudulently and that the election was rigged” Obama claimed. He also referenced COVID-19 skepticism as another example of the dangers of “disinformation.”