During a commencement speech at Wellesley College in Massachusetts on Friday, Hillary Clinton had some advice for the class of 2017: break echo chambers, be critical of fake news, and ignore the trolls.
“You are graduating at a time when there is a full fledged assault on truth and reason — just log on,” Clinton told her alma mater.
“Just log onto social media for ten seconds — it will hit you in the face.”
Graduates are entering a world that’s very different from the one Clinton entered when she left Wellesley in 1969, she said. “The advance of technology, the impact of the internet, our fragmented media landscape make it easier than ever to splinter ourselves into echo chambers.”
Clinton blamed the echo chambers created by social media for helping users shut out anyone who questions our basic assumptions, and for creating a breeding ground for extreme partisanship. These days, “extreme views are given powerful microphones,” she said.
Clinton’s speech continually made both subtle and not-so-subtle digs at President Donald Trump — at one point comparing his impeachment odds to that of Richard Nixon — as she reflected on the ways that social media had effected her own campaign. She said echo chambers spouting fake news have stirred unrealistic fears of immigrants, given voice to climate change deniers, and have started stories about child abuse rings operating out of pizza parlors. The last example — a reference to an insane internet conspiracy theory that claimed Clinton staffers were running a child pornography ring out of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor during the 2016 election — garnered laughs from the audience.
“Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes, like the size of crowds…” she said, clearly alluding to President Trump’s poorly attended inauguration ceremony earlier this year.
Clinton didn’t blame millennials for the bleak state of the world but rather offered a call to arms. “You didn’t create these circumstances, but you have the power to change them,” she said.
“In the years to come there will be trolls galore, online and in person, eager to tell you that you don’t have anything to say or anything meaningful to contribute; they may call you a nasty woman.”
You can watch the entire speech below.