People are 'cocooned in information' because of social media, Barack Obama says

  • Social media is causing people to be "cocooned in information" that reinforces their biases, former U.S. President Barack Obama
  • Obama said that one of the dangers of the internet is that people can have "entirely different realities"
  • The U.K.'s Prince Harry was interviewing Obama on a BBC radio show

Social media is causing people to be "cocooned in information" that reinforces their biases, former U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview released on Wednesday.

Obama was interviewed by Prince Harry of the U.K. royal family on the BBC's Today Program.

In the interview, Obama said that in the past there were a handful of TV news networks that had a "common" set of facts. But the internet has disrupted that and people using social media do not often hear numerous views on complex issues.

"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," Obama said.

The former president did not mention current U.S. President Donald Trump by name in the interview.

But Obama said that social media needs to be something that connects rather than divides people.

"The question I think really 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 our society, but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground," Obama said.

He explained that people need to meet in real life, because often online, users don't really get to know the person they are speaking to.

"On the internet everything is simplified, and when you meet people face to face, it turns out they're complicated, there may be somebody who you think is diametrically opposed to you when it comes to their political views, but you root for the same sports team," Obama said.

"And you find areas of common ground because you see things aren't as simple as has been portrayed in whatever chat room you've been in."

The former U.S. president also said that it's "hard to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the internet."

Obama has often been dubbed "the social media president," because of the role Facebook and Twitter played in helping him reach supporters and get elected.

Trump is also a big user of Twitter and has often used the platform to take aim at companies, countries, and opponents.