Obama says social media is 'corroding social discourse' in interview with Prince Harry

Harry spoke with the former president on BBC's Radio 4.

— -- Former President Barack Obama was interviewed for the first time since leaving office last January by Prince Harry in an interview that aired this morning on BBC’s Radio 4.

The two discussed social media, with Obama warning that caution is necessary.

The former president also said people in a position of power should exercise care when posting messages and said he is concerned that social media is “corroding civil discourse."

Obama did not mention by name President Donald Trump, who uses Twitter frequently.

“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet," Obama said. "One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases."

The wide-ranging interview on a multitude of topics was conducted in September at Harry's Invictus Games but was not released until today, when Harry served as the guest editor of the BBC’s flagship morning program.

Obama reflected on his last days in office and his emotions when he left the presidency. He shared that despite feeling satisfied it was “mixed with all the work that was still undone.”

“Concerns about how the country moves forward but, you know, overall there was serenity there," he added.

Harry focused his show on themes that were central to his charitable work: Empowering youth, providing resources, education and training for service members who have departed the military, and mental health awareness.

Those are all issues the former president and first lady supported during their eight-year tenure at the White House.

"The things that are important to me haven't changed," Obama told Harry. "I still care about making the United States and the world a place where kids get an education, where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage, that we are conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place like we did."

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama were early supporters of the Invictus Games, the Paralympic-style competition Harry founded for wounded service members. Michelle Obama headlined the opening ceremony at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando with Prince Harry.

The Obamas visited the U.K. for a state visit in 2011 and Prince William, Princess Kate and Harry reciprocated, inviting the president and first lady to Kensington Palace in April 2016. Harry also later welcomed Barack Obama back to Kensington Palace and Barack Obama joined Joe and Jill Biden in attending the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.

In October, Harry traveled to Chicago, the Obamas' hometown, to attend the Inaugural Summit of the Obama Foundation. He also joined Michelle Obama in surprising a group of students at a high school on Chicago's South Side.

Harry was asked on BBC’s Radio 4 about having the tables turned and being the interviewer.

"I haven't done that many interviews but it was quite fun," he said. "Especially interviewing President Obama, despite the fact he wanted to interview me.”

Harry also conceded that the process was still a bit nerve-wracking. “You're excited about this, I'm nervous about this, that's what's quite funny," Harry said. Obama replied, "I'll interview you if you want."

"No. No. Let's keep it this way," Harry said.

The interview concluded with a lightning round of Harry asking a number of questions about Obama’s personal life, including his likes and dislikes and even a joke about "Suits," the TV show in which Harry's fiance, Meghan Markle, used to star. Harry also tried to extract from the former president details like whether he wears boxers or briefs and if he could compare Buckingham Palace to the White House.

The fifth-in-line to the throne shared that it was much harder than it looked even though he has done hundreds of interviews in his life.

"It's been a big learning curve but also these are incredibly important topics we all need to think about and need to be discussed," he said.

Harry also treated listeners to a poignant interview with his father, Prince Charles, about the threat and “untold horrors" of climate change.

Prince Charles told his son, "What I’ve been trying to do all these years is to make sure that, if I can possibly and I’m not sure if I can, is to ensure that you and your children, my grandchildren, also everyone else’s grandchildren, have a world fit to live in that provides them with opportunity."

Harry replied to his dad that he feels "optimistic about the future."

"Coming from a younger generation it is incredibly exciting and I feel optimistic about the future because now is a real test for, a real test for humanity to be able to swing that pendulum and say right in order for us to make our mark on this planet," Harry said.

Prince Charles thanked his son, saying, “Well darling boy it makes me very proud to think that you understand."