I’ve been fortunate enough to get to speak at a lot of events over the years, in front of an amazing variety of audiences around the world. But I can honestly say I’ve never been more impressed by the reaction of an audience member than in the panel I hosted earlier today.
We had an amazing discussion about the tactics and impacts of misinformation in social media, with Joan Donovan of Data & Society and Nabiha Syed of BuzzFeed speaking to the social responsibility of the major platforms.
But the standout moment was when Barack Obama quietly joined our room, and sat in for half an hour, even taking notes on the discussion. Most of the room didn’t even notice he was there until he had to leave a bit before the end, and paused to share a few thoughts with us.
I encouraged him to look into the work published by experts like Joan and Nabiha, and to truly get a deep understanding of the dynamics in play, since so much of the political conversation around these serious issues devolves into glib and trite discussions of “fake news”. Just knowing that a voice of such influence and power is willing to hear what these experts has to say gives me a little bit of hope that we might be able to make things a bit better.