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Democracy in the Digital Realm


April 18, 2022

President Obama delivered a keynote address at Stanford University on April 21 about disinformation and challenges to democracy in the digital realm. The event was co-hosted by the Stanford Cyber Policy Center and the Obama Foundation. Watch President Obama’s speech and other highlights below. You can read his full remarks here Opens in a new tab .

President Obama shares a new North Star for the internet

The profound changes taking place in how we communicate and consume information are weakening democracies. That’s why President Obama visited Stanford University in Silicon Valley to talk about a new North Star vision for the internet and the work for us all to build something better.

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2018 Obama Foundation Fellow, Tiana Epps-Johnson introduces President Obama prior to his keynote speech on disinformation and challenges to democracy in the digital information realm on April 21, 2022.

“Young people everywhere are recognizing that this is a problem … they’re doing their part to fix it. And the rest of us need to follow their lead.”
- President Obama, 2022
President Obama raises his hand to speak at a table full of people with various skin tones.

Our mission is to inspire, empower, and connect the next generation of leaders to change their world. At a time when democracy is under threat around the world, we need leaders who can connect across differences and ​​who understand that the best chance we have to solve our greatest challenges is to solve them together.


Changes in the way people create and consume information poses a threat to democracy and it is a particular challenge to our leaders working on a wide range of issues.

“There is a consistent theme which is young people are trying to bring about change and they keep on confronting institutional barriers that make it hard for them and the communities they’re working with to get anything done,” President Obama said during his conversation in Chicago with The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg. “A lot of the reason that it’s so hard to bring about change is we live in a media environment now that elevates falsehoods as much as truths, that divides people more than it brings them together.”

We believe if we invest in the next generation, these are the leaders who will create the change we seek and foster the inclusive democracy we need.

Get to know the people leading the way.

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Tiana Epps-Johnson, Chicago, United States

Founder and Executive Director, Center for Technology and Civic Life

Tiana Epps-Johnson is founder and executive director of the  Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and a 2018 Obama Foundation Fellow. Opens in a new tab  She is leading a team that is doing groundbreaking work to make U.S. elections more inclusive and secure. CTCL is a nationally-recognized nonprofit that partners with everyone – from rural election offices to the largest tech companies in the world. Read her full bio.

Juliana Tafur smiles to camera.

Juliana Tafur, Miami, United States

Founder of Story Powerhouse

Juliana Tafur is the founder of Story Powerhouse, a professional and social development organization that uses film to cultivate understanding. Her organization’s Listen Courageously workshop series uses documentaries to bring people together across lines of difference and provides tools to nurture heart-centered dialogue and empathic listening. She is a 2021-2022 Obama Scholar at Columbia University.

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Sandor Lederer, Hungary

Founder and Director, K-Monitor Association

2018 Obama Foundation Fellow Sandor Lederer founded K-Monitor, an anti-corruption watchdog working to give citizens the tools to boost transparency, democracy, and the rule of law in Hungary. Read more +

Vidhya Ramalingam

Vidhya Ramalingam, United Kingdom

Founder, Moonshot

Vidhya is the founder of Moonshot, a company that uses technology to disrupt and counter global violent extremism and other online harms. Moonshot aims to deliver social work online to reach potential perpetrators and to steer them away from violence. Vidhya was part of the 2020 Obama Foundation Leaders Europe program.

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Pavel Kounchev, Bulgaria

Co-Founder, Managing Director, Time Heroes Foundation, Co-Founder, Chair of the Board, Fine Acts Foundation

Pavel Kounchev is the founder and director of Time Heroes, the largest volunteering platform in Bulgaria, which matches volunteers with causes while creating effective incentives for civic engagement. He was also a member of the 2018-2019 Obama Foundation Scholars program at Columbia University.

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Ian Yee, Malaysia

Journalist, Editor, and Executive Producer, The Fourth Media

Ian Yee is a journalist, editor, producer and co-founder of The Fourth, an investigative and impact media company that tackles social injustice through multimedia documentaries and creative public action campaigns.