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The former president of the United States, Barack Obama, has a rock star reaction in Ottawa

Former US President Barack Obama is warning about the effects of false news in democracies around the world and says that societies should have a conversation about how online platforms such as Facebook and Google can help to the users to better identify what is true.

Obama made the remarks during an armchair-style discussion before an audience of 12,000 in Ottawa on Friday night. He said that democracies have had only "episodic" discussions about misinformation and must work with social networking platforms to find ways to preserve "the fundamental social good" online.

"The market of ideas that is the basis of our democratic practice has difficulties to function if we do not have a common baseline of what is true and what is not," Obama said during the one-hour event at the Canadian Tire Center.

"I personally know the people who created and executed Facebook and Google and all the great social media platforms we have now and I think the amount of power they have now, as essentially a common carrier of ideas, means that it has to be a kind of collective conversation about how that works. "

Obama's participation in the speech was organized by Canada 2020, a group of influential experts with close ties to the liberal government. The former president spoke extensively about the impact of digital platforms, positive and negative, on democracies during a conversation with Tobi Lutke, CEO of the Ottawa-based e-commerce company, Shopify.

For example, Obama said the internet has played an important role in holding world leaders accountable.

"It used to be that if there was a massacre, an ethnic cleansing, on the other side of the world, in Asia, it could be on page four of The New York Times," Obama said. "Now, we are aware of the cruelty and the disaster and the problems that are happening in an almost instantaneous time, I think that puts pressure on the leaders because it means that people say" what are you doing about it? "

Obama's trip to Ottawa comes a day after US Vice President Mike Pence visited the capital.

Regardless of who is in the White House, Mr. Obama said that Canada and the United States share, in their essence, a commitment to "liberal democracy based on the market of the little ones" and the belief in certain international rules and regulations. .

"One of the things I have always emphasized and learned to appreciate even more during the presidency is that, however powerful the United States may be, its international influence is greatly enhanced by the alliance it has with countries like Canada." he said, while the crowd erupted in applause.

The Trump administration has prided itself on a protectionist agenda, has soured relations with allies and has turned its back on the international multilateral system. Obama warned that when long-standing alliances break down, a vacuum is created in the international space that runs the risk of being filled by "destructive" values.

Mr. Obama spoke warmly of Canada and said he has "a little love story" with the country.

The crowd applauded when Obama, an avid basketball fan, saluted the Toronto Raptors, who are currently facing the Golden State Warriors in the first NBA Finals in the history of the Raptors. He concluded the event by suggesting that the world of politics takes some important lessons from the game of basketball.

"Both teams play as teams. So their superstars are disinterested and they just want results, "Obama said." The second lesson is that both teams are based on talent that is unexpected and international … If you do not know where the talents are going to be, you have to give them a chance. to all".

Mr. Obama arrived in Ottawa for the last time in 2016, during his last year as president. In a speech addressed to Parliament at that time, he delivered a speech on the protectionist and anti-immigrant rhetoric of Mr. Trump, who was then a Republican presidential candidate.

Mr. Obama also attended the G8 and G20 meetings in Huntsville, Ontario and Toronto, respectively, in 2010. As in many previous US presidents. UU., Your first trip abroad as president went to Ottawa, in 2009.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shares a close bond with Obama, and leaders tease each other amicably over the years. But beyond what is described as bromance, men share similar approaches to everything from climate change to their social media strategies.

By Michelle Zilio Reporter of parliamentary affairs.
Published on May 31, 2019
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