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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Think before you speak; think before you tweet: Obama at HTLS 2017

On Day 2 of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, former US president Barack Obama took a jibe at his successor Donald Trump (without naming him), saying he has more followers than other people who use Twitter more often.

htls Updated: Sep 23, 2018 21:36 IST
Nisheeth Upadhyay
Nisheeth Upadhyay
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Former US president Barack Obama at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday.
Former US president Barack Obama at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday. (Sanchit Khanna / HT )

Former US president Barack Obama had a word of advice for Twitter users on Friday without mentioning Donald Trump, who has continually used the social media platform to blast out controversial opinions. (Barack Obama session highlights)

“Think before you speak. Think before you tweet,” said the 44th US president, who had the audience in splits at the 15th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, adding that he goes to the extent of using punctuation marks in his text messages.

Obama said most snap judgments on complex issues were generally wrong and stressed on the need to use “extremely powerful tools” such as Twitter and Facebook responsibly.

I have got a hundred million Twitter followers. I actually have more than other people who use it more often,” said Obama in another oblique reference to the current president of the United States.

Since winning the presidency last year, Trump has repeatedly been ridiculed over gaffes in his tweets, often misspelling words and using poor syntax.

He was condemned in Britain earlier this week for sharing videos originally posted by a leader of a British far-right fringe group, known for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, on Twitter. He also recently tweeted a morphed video showing him “tackling CNN to the ground”.

Many Twitter users have called Trump ‘unpresidential’ for his conduct on the social media platform.

Obama was speaking with senior journalist Karan Thapar, who asked him about an apparent dig his wife, Michelle Obama, took at Trump.

“(Michelle said) never tweet the first thing that comes to mind. Never tweet from bed. Always edit and spell-check. Who do you think she had in mind?” Thapar asked.

“Well, it wasn’t me because I do spell-check and I also use punctuation in my texts,” Obama shot back. “It is important to... understand that it (social media platforms) could be used for good or for ill,” he said.

Obama refrained from naming Trump when asked who represented the true America: Donald Duck or Donald Trump?

“It is just this cacophony of life and it throws up all kinds of variety and there are political trends in America that I don’t agree with, abide by, but I recognise as a part of the running thread in American life... What I take heart from is the fact that trend-lines of America are for more kindness, more inclusion, more health, more education, more equality,” he said.

First Published: Dec 01, 2017 15:48 IST

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