During his last overseas trip as the leader of the free world, President Barack Obama on Thursday cautioned against fake news sources, saying that America will have problems if its citizens read only “propaganda” that aligns with their already established beliefs.
Obama’s statement comes as social media platforms deal with a backlash of criticism from observers who have suggested that “fake news” found on the websites contributed to the election of Donald Trump. Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg called that idea “crazy” but later indicated the company is working on purge fake news stories from the website.
“If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems” Obama said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, the Hill reported.
Obama said Americans are living “in an age where there is so much active misinformation,” adding that “it’s packaged very well, and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or turn on your television.”
“If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect. We won’t know what to fight for,” Obama said.
While he acknowledged that it’s easier to communicate negative attacks and “simplistic slogans” than complex policy proposals, the president seemed to remain optimistic. “We’ll figure it out,” Obama assured the international press.