Obama's China Town Hall: A Push For Internet Freedom and a Twitter Confession
During the town hall meeting this Monday with an audience of about 500 Chinese students at the Museum of Science and Technology in Shanghai, President Obama clearly states his push for non-censorship, in a country known for its Internet control-freak tendencies. While the New York Times reports that the audience appeared to be handpicked by the government, (no surprise), the students seemed pretty excited to meet the president as they were all smiles.
When asked, “Should we be able to use Twitter freely?” Obama gave a quite shocking (but not really) response as he admits “Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter. I noticed that young people — they’re very busy with all these electronics. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone.”
Though Obama doesn't understand all the Twitter rage, it doesn't mean others should be banned from all the fun:
“I should be honest, as president of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn’t flow so freely because then I wouldn’t have to listen to people criticizing me all the time,” he said. But, he added, “because in the United States, information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear.”
Will his urge for non-censorship make a difference? For the booming younger generations of Internet users in China, it seems so. “I will no forget this morning,” one Chinese Twitterer said. “I heard, on my shaky Internet connection, a question about our own freedom which only a foreign leader can discuss.”
For a video of the town hall meeting, click here. Do you think people everywhere should be able to Twitter?