The former president once again has some advice for the current commander-in-chief, this time coming out of India. On Friday, Dec. 1, Barack Obama took a jab at Donald Trump's Twitter habits during an interview in India, where he was attending a leadership forum in New Delhi. While he never mentioned his successor by name, Obama made fairly clear references to Trump.
Obama, speaking to a crowd at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, gave a speech followed by an hour-long interview with Indian journalist Karan Thapar, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
During the event, Obama offered some relevant advice on using social media. He warned that platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, "are all extraordinarily powerful tools, and these tools can be used for good or for ill." Citing "built-in challenges" in social media, he added that they can "lead to a lot of snap judgments," which, he said, psychologists know are often wrong. Perhaps most incisive was his observation that "one of the dangers is that instead of deep analysis and evaluation” and taking time to thoroughly examine an issue, social media users are often just "skimming the surface," he said.
He summed up his opinion with what could be the mantra of the year, saying, "Think before you speak, think before you tweet."
His advice was in keeping with what his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, had said during a speech in Canada on Tuesday. Her two cents? It's "never a good idea" to tweet the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning. And if you do, "you need to edit and spell-check it."
The former first lady continued, explaining how she runs her public accounts. In her circle, she said, “We use social media by committee," adding, "I usually think about what I want to say." Only after discussion, drafts, and revisions do they think about sharing something.
Meanwhile, in a move somewhat reminiscent of something his successor has done, Barack Obama compared his followers to Trump's. "I’ve got 100 million Twitter followers. I actually have more than other people who use it more often," Obama said. (The numbers were slightly exaggerated, but still, Obama has more than double what Trump does.) Distinguishing himself from the infamously typo-prone tweeter, Obama added that he uses spellchecker and correct punctuation.
The Obamas' references to Twitter discipline were particularly relevant this week, when Trump was chastised by British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Dutch government for sharing falsified anti-Muslim videos on his social media account. (Trump later tweeted a testy mind-your-own-business response to May.)
Twitter isn't the only thing Obama got in a dig on during the interview, though. The former president also talked about climate change, leadership, and, yes, even a comparison between Donald Trump and Donald Duck.
Referring to climate change, Obama said, "If you’re saying it’s a hoax, then there’s no way for us to bridge our differences in a constructive way." He added the Paris agreement was "giving our children a fighting chance."
He also said we're experiencing "a little bit of a pause in American leadership," though, again, he didn't name names. He added that Americans need to look in the mirror if they are alarmed by politicians' behaviors. "If you see a politician doing things that are questionable," Obama said, "one of the things as a citizen is to ask yourself 'Am I encouraging, or supporting, or giving license to the values I'm hearing out of the politician?'"
Obama also spoke about the chasm between what one news outlet says versus another, making a not-so-veiled reference to Trump's ongoing "fake news" tirade. "Those who watch Fox News and those who read The New York Times occupy completely different realities," Obama said. "If I watched Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me."
While Obama's social media advice may seem obvious, it apparently never stops being relevant. Take it from him: Be careful what you tweet.