In May 2023, posts began to circulate on social media claiming that former U.S. President Barack Obama had called for "full-blown government censorship to eradicate independent media." Most of the posts, like the one below from Twitter, linked to an article on the website The People's Voice. We found similar posts on Facebook and Reddit.
The quote attributed to Obama in these posts is not genuine. We found no evidence in any publicly available source that Obama ever uttered that statement, nor did the People's Voice article from which it originated provide any evidence to substantiate it.
Moreover, the article's subheading made a further unsubstantiated claim, namely that Obama urged the "Biden regime" to declare a national emergency and "use its powers to eradicate all independent media online." Again, we found no evidence that Obama had urged the Biden administration to do such a thing.
The People's Voice article purported to address remarks Obama made in an interview with CBS News on May 16, in which he address questions about some of the country's seemingly intractable problems, such as gun violence and the political divisiveness that hampers efforts to solve them. "The thing that I'm most worried about is the degree to which we now have a divided conversation, in part because we have a divided media, a splintered media," Obama said, noting that "we almost occupy different realities."
But nowhere in those remarks did Obama call for censorship, or for independent media to be "eradicated," or for the Biden administration to declare a "national emergency" to do so. On the contrary, he suggested that the only practical way forward is for Americans to seek common ground on which to address even the most divisive issues.
We note, in closing, that the source of the misrepresentation of Obama's remarks, The People's Voice, is a rebranded version of an older website well-known for producing misinformation called News Punch.