Barack Obama photo

Interview with Steve Grove Director of News Lab at Google

January 22, 2015

Grove: Hello everyone. My name is Steve Grove, and I'm the director of the News Lab at Google, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to a YouTube interview with the president of the United States.

Mr. President, thanks for having us here today.

The President: Great to see you, Steve. Thanks.

Grove: We're really excited for this interview, today.

I should tell our viewers just what a YouTube interview is.

The President: Right.

Grove: We've invited three top YouTube creators here to the White House today, we're in the East Room, and they have set up their own YouTube sets right here in the White House for a very special YouTube video with a very special guest, the president of the United States.

Now, they've been asking their millions of subscribers on YouTube what they should ask you in today's interview. None of those questions has the president seen before.

And we've also been taking a look on Google at what Americans were searching for during your State of the Union address. So Mr. President, this is data that we've collected anonymously across all of Google searches in America, top questions that people asked during your State of the Union speech included, "what is middle class income? Why are gas prices dropping?" People also want to know stuff like, "how much does the president make?"

"When does his term end? What does the speaker of the House do?"

The President: Right.

Grove: So these are things that are on people's mind as they watch your speech. Next, we sort of backed up and looked at the issues.

The President: Yep.

Grove: So of all the issues you addressed during the speech, which issues were Googled most during your State of the Union?

College, number one, far and away, followed by taxes, housing, employment, education.

Finally, Mr. President, you might be curious: what was the most asked question on Google during the first 10 minutes or so of your State of the Union?

The President: Right.

Grove: It was "how old is Obama?"

You can see this huge spike as you begin your speech, and then, you know, throughout, people very curious about how old you are.

Go figure. Well, let's get straight to the interview. We'll show you more Google trends throughout the conversation today, but let's get right to the questions.

The President: Good.

Grove: I want to introduce you first to Hank Green of the Vlog brothers.

H. Green: Hey.

The President: Great to see you, Hank.

H. Green: President Obama.

The President: Thank you so much for having me.

H. Green: Thanks a lot for doing this.

The President: It's cool.

H. Green: I don't really feel like I'm having you. This is your house.

The President: You know, well, it's the people's house. This is a -- I'm actually leasing, and my lease runs out in two years.

H. Green: Oh my.

The President: Yeah. Hope to get my security deposit back.

H. Green: I think you've treated it fairly well.

The President: It looks OK.

H. Green: I'm only going to get one shot at this. I don't think I'm going to get a lot of chances to interview the president, so I'm going to jump right in.

The President: Let's do it.

H. Green: Start grilling you.

I watched the State of the Union.

The President: Yeah.

H. Green: A lot of really interesting ideas there. I'm not the only person who's said this: a little worried that none of them are at all politically feasible. Am I wrong?

The President: Well, first of all, there's some areas where I think we can get some Republican cooperation on infrastructure, for example. Historically, that hasn't been a partisan issue: roads, bridges; now that we're in the 21st century, broadband lines into communities that don't have good access; making sure we've got a first class power grid so that we're not leaking a lot of energy and we can produce more energy without causing more carbon pollution.

So there's some areas where, I think right away we can get some cooperation. There's some areas where it's important for us to frame the debate and get the American people behind us, because even if something doesn't happen immediately here in Washington, it starts having an impact around the country.

A great example of that is the minimum wage. I called for the -- a rise in the minimum wage last year, and Congress still hasn't passed it yet. But in the meantime, you've got 17 states, you've got cities and others that are raising the minimum wage. And so, it creates movements that ultimately, you know, change things in Washington, as well.

H. Green: So, you used the phrase, "middle-class economics"...

The President: Yeah.

H. Green: ... in the speech, which I think is a -- is an idea that we needed a phrase for.

The President: Right.

H. Green: But when I first told people I was going to be able to come talk to you, a lot of them expressed that they felt like the government was never going to have their interests at heart because the government existed to protect the interests of corporations and business. And the thing that they use is -- like, the prime example of this is taking former leaders of industry and putting them in positions where they're regulating the industries they used to be in charge of.

The President: Right.

H. Green: Is that a legitimate concern? And do you understand where those people are coming from?

The President: Yeah. You know, look, I understand people's skepticism and cynicism. On the other hand, think about a bunch of stuff that government does do. I mean, since I've been in office, we've been able to take away money that was being siphoned off by banks in the student loan program. And billions of dollars are now suddenly going directly to students to make it easier for them to finance their student loans. You know, simple stuff that we often take for granted, like Social Security or Medicare for -- in the case of many of your viewers -- your -- their grandparents.

H. Green: Mm-hmm.

The President: You know, that's a government program that helps a lot of people. And so, you know, what is true is that too often, lobbyists and special interests are able to block efforts to make the system fairer and to make it work better. But our history shows that when people get involved, when they get engaged, when they vote, that, in fact, change happens. It doesn't always happen 100 percent and it doesn't always happen immediately, but it happens.

H. Green: So -- we're going to jump around a lot here...

The President: Sure.

H. Green: ... because I have a lot of topics.

The President: I understand.

H. Green: It's -- I don't have a lot of...

The President: It's OK.

H. Green: ... it's just crazy that I have to do this.

The President: I'm going to keep my questions -- my answers as short as possible.

H. Green: I -- I appreciate you doing that.

The President: All right. I'll try to zip through it.

H. Green: So, I feel like whenever a new weapons technology is developed, we spend five or 10 years sort of coming to understand the full implications of that new technology. And sometimes, we look back at those initial years of its use as...

The President: Yes.

H. Green: ... like we maybe misused or overused that technology.

The President: Right.

H. Green: Are you at all worried that your administration is going to be seen as a time when drone strikes were a technology like -- that we see as over or misused?

The President: Well, you know, basically, drone technology came into its own right when I first came into office. We have tried to put a series of constraints on how it's used. But understand that our goal has always been, how do we target very specific terrorists who are, you know, proven to be trying to kill us? Or, more frequently, kill innocent Muslims in their home countries? And how do we do that with -- with as little damage to the surrounding communities and innocent people as possible?

You know, part of what is really tough for me as commander in chief is the fact that any kind of war is damaging. Any kind of war results in casualties. And, in fact, the sort of damage that may have taken place with a drone strike is always significantly less than if I ordered a raid into a village where a high-value terrorist target was.

So, you take the bin Laden operation in Pakistan, for example. Probably as successful and as effective an operation as we could have imagined.

H. Green: Well...

The President: You know, there were some people killed in that operation. And the truth of the matter is that anytime we're going after terrorists who are embedded in communities, there are dangers there.

But I think it's entirely legitimate to say that as new technologies develop, we have to make sure that we step back and say: Do we have a legal framework? And a set of controls on it? Because I think what people worry about is that it's a little more antiseptic than when we send troops in; that it may seem as if there's no cost to it.

And we've tried to do that. And I think there have been some lessons learned, and occasionally there've been mistakes that have been made, and, you know, nobody grieves over that more than I do. But it's -- it's something that we take very seriously. And I would argue that today's technologies can enable us to defend ourselves, causing less damage to those communities than in the past.

H. Green: Sort of along those lines, there's a lot of bad things happening in the world, but I feel like none more so than the kind of generations-long oppression and even genocide that's been happening in North Korea. We recently, you know, implemented new sanctions against North Korea because of a cyber attack against us. Now, it's obviously a problematic cyber attack, but no one was physically hurt.

The President: Right.

H. Green: I was surprised to find that there were any sanctions that we could sanction that hadn't been sanctioned yet. Like -- like, how was there anything left? I feel like, as the strongest nation in the world, like it feels wrong that such injustice could exist in the world.

The President: No, look, North Korea is the most isolated, the most sanctioned, the most cut-off nation on earth. And the kind of authoritarianism that exists there, you almost can't duplicate anywhere else. It -- it's brutal and it's oppressive. And as a consequence, the country can't really even feed its own people.

There aren't that many sanctions left. I mean, we keep on trying to ratchet it up a little bit higher. Over time, you will see a regime like this collapse. Our capacity to effect change in North Korea is somewhat limited because you've got a million-person army and they have nuclear technologies and missiles. That's all they spend their money on, essentially, is on their war machine. And we've got an ally South Korea right next door, that if there were a war would be severely affected.

So, the answer is not going to be a military solution. We will keep on ratcheting the pressure. But part of what's happening is the environment that we're speaking in today, the Internet, over time is going to be penetrating that country and it is very hard to sustain that kind of brutal authoritarian regime in this modern world. Information ends up seeping in over time and change -- bringing about change. And that's something that we are constantly looking for way to accelerate.

H. Green: So I -- sometimes people think I do -- but I don't smoke pot. And I -- it just is not for me. I think that it's bad for my brain. I'm not into it, but other people think I do smoke pot because I'm -- I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana.

The President: Right.

H. Green: And we're in a really weird place...

The President: Yeah.

H. Green: ... with marijuana right now. Like, it's illegal in some places, but -- it's illegal everywhere, but in some places it's kind of OK. But if the state think it's not OK, then let's throw those people in jail. I feel like it -- it -- you know, it leads to excessive incarceration, especially among minorities. And in places where it's been legalized, everything's doing OK.

The President: Yeah.

H. Green: How do we move forward out of this legal gray area weirdness?

The President: Well, what you're seeing now is Colorado, Washington, through state referendum. They're experimenting with legal marijuana. The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance. But we're not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue.

My suspicion is that you're going to see other states start looking at this. What I am doing at the federal level is asking my Department of Justice just to examine generally how we are treating nonviolent drug offenders. Because I think you're right. You know, what we have done is instead of focusing on treatment, the same way we focused, say, with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as a public health problem, we've treated this exclusively as a criminal problem.

And I think that it's been counterproductive, and it's been, you know, devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law. And that has to be changed.

Now, the good news is, is that we're starting to get some interest among Republicans, as well as Democrats, in -- in reforming the criminal justice system. We've been able to initiate some changes administratively. And last year, you had the first time in 40 years where the crime rate and the incarceration rate went down at the same time.

I hope we can continue with those trends because there's just a smarter way of dealing with these issues.

H. Green: All right. Well, we're almost out of time here, but I have brought a little -- a little something for you.

The President: What have you got?

H. Green: I'd like you to sign. So this is a picture of me holding a receipt from my pharmacy. I have a chronic condition.

The President: That's a very fetching picture.

H. Green: Thank you.

And -- and it's expensive to manage. But I -- before I had insurance, I could not take this medication. It's about $1,100 a month. And that is a receipt showing it being $5 a month. So, Obamacare...

The President: Obamacare has worked and that makes me feel good.

H. Green: ... has worked for me. So thanks for that.

The President: Hank, you know, your story is -- is the story of so many people around the country. You've been managing a chronic disease, so you I think are probably more attuned to the dangers of not having health insurance.

H. Green: Yeah.

The President: A lot of young people who are your viewers, they don't have a chronic disease so they think "why do I need it," until something happens.

H. Green: Yeah.

The President: And I hope that, you know, people have started to become aware, now that we've got a year under our belt, the overwhelming majority of people are satisfied when they get coverage through Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. It typically costs less than your cell phone bill or your cable bill.

It gives you peace of mind. And, you know, I -- I want to encourage everybody who hasn't at least looked at it, to go to You know, as you know, we had some bad hiccups initially in terms of the website, but -- but now the website works really well. H. Green: It does.

The President: And it's really fast and there's no wait. So, everybody's who's watching, you know, make sure that you try it out.

H. Green: Keep watching the livestream, though, but then afterward maybe go look at it.

The President: All right. Thanks, Hank.

H. Green: Yeah, thank you very much.

The President: I'm really proud of what you're doing. And thanks to everybody who watches all the great stuff that you're putting on -- on the Web.

H. Green: Thank you very much.

The President: All right. Appreciate you. Thanks.

Grove: Mr. President, the next topic that we're going to cover is another angle on cybersecurity.

The President: Yeah.

Grove: We thought you'd be interested to know that searches on Google for cybersecurity have really risen over the past couple of years to the point where now more people are searching for cybersecurity than national security overall. So, clearly a topic on a lot of people's minds.

The President: Right.

Grove: To tackle this topic and a lot of others I want to introduce you to our next YouTube star, GloZell Green.

The President: Hey. GloZell.

G. Green: Hello.

The President: How are you? Good to see you. How you doing?

G. Green: Excellent. Thank you.

The President: That's a nice painting.

G. Green: Thank you.

The President: Did you do that yourself? Was that a self...

G. Green: My husband.

The President: Your husband?

G. Green: Yes.

The President: See, he loves you. I can tell.

G. Green: Thank you.

The President: That's great. He's quite an artist.

G. Green: Yes. Thank you very much. All right. Let's get started.

My social media reaches over five million fans.

The President: That's a lot of people. [inaudible].

G. Green: Thank you. Especially now. But I feel like I thought I was able to say whatever I wanted to say whenever I wanted to say how I wanted to say it because it was mine. But then the Sony hacking thing happened.

The President: Right. Right.

G. Green: And it's like why didn't the government help Sony feel protected and safe enough to release the film on time? Because something like that, the fallout affects me.

The President: Well, look. Cybersecurity is a huge issue we've been working on since I came to office. And in fairness, the administration before me probably was starting to work on it. Although the changes in the media have happened so fast and so much stuff is going online today that it becomes that much more important.

The challenge we've got is that most of the Internet and the infrastructure that allows you to be posting on YouTube and people accessing your stuff, most of that stuff's in private hands. It's not in public hands.

And so what we have to do is to work with private companies telling them here's what we're seeing, here's how you can protect yourself, here's how you should share information with other companies who start seeing hackers getting into their stuff so that everybody can pool the information and we can all protect each other together.

And it moves very fast because these hackers are -- you don't have to have a lot of equipment in order to be able to do this hacking. In fact, the hacking against Sony, which we believe was done by North Korea, it wasn't even that sophisticated. But it just goes to show how vulnerable we are.

So we continue to do more with private industry, to share with them best practices to how they can protect themselves. It's sort of like with your own ATM machine -- ATM card or your pass code, your passwords, your personal privacy. There's certain things you can do to make yourself more protected.

So we're sharing that information with them. But what we're also asking Congress to do is pass a law that would give us more tools to fight against this in the future. And I'm confident that this is something we can actually get some good bipartisan support for.

So you're going to be all right. People are going to still be able to watch your show, I promise.

G. Green: OK.

The President: OK.

G. Green: I have three family members who are in the law enforcement. And my husband who painted there, he's retired from the Air Force.

The President: Well, we're grateful for his service. You tell him thank you.

G. Green: I will do that.

However, he's mad at me right now because I cut all the hoods off his hoodies. I did. I did that for real...

The President: I understand.

G. Green: ... to protect him because I'm afraid when he goes outside that somebody might shoot and kill him.

And it's not like regular folks. It's the po-po. I hope that this changes. How can we bridge the gap between black, African- American males and white cops?

The President: Well, first of all, we always have to just remind ourselves that the overwhelming majority of police officers, they are doing a really tough job and they're doing it well. And they're doing it professionally.

What we also know is that there's still biases in our society that in split-second situations where people having to make quick decisions that studies have shown African-American males are seen as more threatening, which puts them in more vulnerable positions.

G. Green: Yes.

The President: Young African-American males are typically seen as older than they are. And so a lot of the way to solve this is to improve training so people can be aware of their biases ahead of time.

And when I was in the state legislature back in Illinois, for example, I passed a racial profiling bill. It essentially said how are we going to tackle this problem? Let's make sure we're keeping track of the race of everybody that was being stopped.

And just by the small fix of keeping track, suddenly each cop when they were about to make a traffic stop they had to think, OK, am I stopping this person because I should be stopping them? Or is some bias at work?

And just that kind of mindfulness about it ended up resulting in better data, better policing, more trust by the communities that are affected. And we can do some of that same stuff and use those same tools.

I've put together a task force with police and community activists, including some of the young people who were actively involved in the Ferguson protest to make sure that we come up with what are the best training practices, what are the best tools, more body cameras on police officers so that they know they're being watched...

G. Green: Yes.

The President: ... and how they're operating. And we're going to take some of those recommendations and we're going to put federal muscle behind them to see if we can make sure the communities all across the country are implementing them.

G. Green: Thank you.

The President: There you go. Well, it'll be -- it's something that I think everybody, not just African-Americans or Latinos, but everybody should be concerned about...

G. Green: Yes.

The President: ... because you get better policing when communities have confidence that the police are protecting and serving all people and not in any way showing bias. And that's something that we should all have an interest in.

G. Green: Amen to that.

The President: There you go.

G. Green: OK.

The President: OK.

G. Green: I grew up in Florida...

The President: Yes.

G. Green: And I have a lot of friends, close friends, who are Cuban-American.

The President: Right.

G. Green: And I've heard the stories of their families escaping...

The President: Right.

G. Green: ... and some of them didn't even make it to come to the United States for a better life, to get away from the Castros.

The President: Right.

G. Green: OK. I mean, the guy puts "dic" in dictatorship. So I am trying to understand how do you justify dealing with the Castros?

The President: Well, here's what's happened. We've had the same policy since I was born, which was we were going to have an embargo. We were going to cut off all contact, all communication. And nothing changed.

And you know I've said this before. When you do something over and over again for 50 years and it doesn't work, it's time to try something new.

And we started off initially by allowing more travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans to visit their family, sending more money back to their family members to help them back in Cuba.

We've been doing that for the last four or so years. And it turns out it's been helpful to the people in Cuba. They have more contact with their family. It gives them more hope.

Now what we're saying is that by normalizing relations we're going to be able to still put pressure on the Cuban government. But also what happens is now you've got more visitors to Cuba.

You start getting telecommunications into Cuba. You start getting the Internet into Cuba. People's minds begin to change. There's more transparency about what's going on.

And over time what you're going to see, gradually, is a shift. Because not everybody in Cuba's able to escape to the United States, and the goal ultimately is to make sure that there's freedom in Cuba, not just for the folks who have left.

G. Green: This is dependent on the Supreme Court ruling, but do you think that same-sex marriage will be legalized in all of United States during the time that you're in office? And what can you do to push that along?

The President: Well, we've done a lot, obviously, to push it along. I announced my belief that same-sex marriage should be legal that people should be treated the same.

We argued against -- as an administration before the Supreme Court we argued against the Defense of Marriage Act that was treating married couples, same-sex couples differently in terms of federal benefits.

The Supreme Court now is going to be taking on a case. My hope is that they go ahead and recognize what I think the majority of people in America now recognize, which is two people who love each other...

G. Green: Yes.

The President: ... and are treating each other with respect, and aren't bothering anybody else, why would the law treat them differently?

G. Green: Why?

The President: Why?

G. Green: I mean why?

The President: There's no good reason for it.

G. Green: No.

The President: So as a consequence I think that I'm hopeful the Supreme Court comes to the right decision.

But I will tell you, people's hearts have opened up on this issue. I think people know that treating folks unfairly, even if you disagree with their lifestyle choice...

G. Green: Exactly.

The President: ... the fact of the matter is they're not bothering you. Let them live their lives. And under the law they should be treated equally.

G. Green: Yes.

The President: And as far as me personally, you know just to see all the loving gay and lesbian couples that I know who are great parents...

G. Green: Yes.

The President: ... and great partners. You know the idea that we would not treat them like the brothers and sisters that they are, that doesn't make any sense to me.

G. Green: Yes. Thank you.

The President: You're welcome.

G. Green: OK. You're almost done with me, and your time as president.

The President: Yes.

G. Green: With the time left, what would you hope your legacy is?

The President: Well, we saved an economy that was on the brink of depression. We've created 11 million new jobs. We've doubled clean energy. We've reduced pollution. We've made sure that more young people can go to college.

We have given now so far 10 million people health insurance that didn't have it before. And that's going to grow over time. You know we have ended two wars in a responsible way.

But we still have challenges. Every day I wake up and I ask myself in particular how can I make sure that folks who are working hard can, not just survive, but how can they thrive? How can they get ahead?

And so in the State of the Union that I just gave we talked about how can we provide more help for young families with childcare, huge burden on a lot of people? How can we make sure that college is more affordable?

And what I want to do is make sure that the first two years of community colleges are free so that young people can you know have confidence that if they go and try to get more skills that they're not going to be paying through the nose in terms of a lifetime of debt. You know I want to make sure that we're doing more to raise the minimum wage and providing paid sick leave.

So there's a lot of basic stuff that we can do that would ensure the economy goes strong, but more importantly that everybody benefits from a strong economy. And that's going to be my focus over the next two years.

And once I'm done then I'll look back and I'll see what the legacy is. But hopefully it'll be one in which I'm making sure that everybody in this country can succeed.

G. Green: OK. My mama said whenever you go to somebody's house you have to give them something.

The President: Oh.

G. Green: Don't come empty-handed.

The President: All right.

G. Green: So I have green lipsticks. One for...

The President: Yes.

G. Green: ... your first wife. I mean...

The President: My first?

G. Green: I mean...

The President: Do you know something I don't?

G. Green: Oh. Oh, for the first lady.

The President: One for the first lady.

G. Green: And the first children. I'm sorry.

The President: Oh, I'm just teasing.

G. Green: OK. All right. I'm just going to put these -- I'll keep these here.

The President: OK. Let me just take a look at these though. They are very... G. Green: It's green.

The President: Yes. I mean it is impressive stuff. I'm going to see how it looks. I'm going to ask Michelle to try it on maybe tonight.

G. Green: Right. Thank you.

The President: Thank you so much.

G. Green: Yes. Thank you.

The President: You didn't get some green lipstick on my...

G. Green: Well, I'm not -- look.

The President: All right. Thank you.

Grove: All right, Mr. President. So the next issue we're going to tackle is education.

The President: Yes.

Grove: Something you talked a lot about in your State of the Union. You'd be interested to know that traditionally when people were searching on Google for stuff around college the number one question they asked was what should I bring with me to college.

The President: Right.

Grove: So in the past couple years the number one question has become how to pay for college.

The President: Yes.

Grove: So clearly a topic that a lot of people want to know more about. And to tackle that question and many others we have a very popular YouTube creator next, Ms. Bethany Mota.

The President: All right.

Mota: Hello...

The President: Hey, Bethany.

Mota: ... Mr. President.

The President: How are you?

Mota: Good. How are you?

The President: Good to see you.

Mota: Great to meet you.

The President: Thanks.

Mota: Welcome to my little setup.

The President: I know. It's...

Mota: I hope you like it.

The President: It's very attractive.

Mota: I decorated for you.

The President: Yes, it's beautiful.

Mota: Thank you.

The President: Who's the baby over there?

Mota: That is my niece. These are all my sisters.

The President: What's her name?

Mota: Her name is Marin.

The President: Tell Marin I said hey.

Mota: I will.

The President: OK.

Mota: All right. So I'm very excited to hear your answers so I'm just going to dive into the questions.

The President: Let's go.

Mota: So my first question for you is regarding education.

The President: Yes.

Mota: I'm 19 years old. A lot of my friends are the same age as me, as well as my online audience. And a lot of them are now going to college or are already in college.

So my question for you is how can -- what do you think is the best long-term plan for making education as a whole more affordable for students?

The President: Well, a couple of things. First of all, college remains the best investment you can make. If you want to do anything right now in this 21st century economy, you're going to be measured by how much knowledge you have and how adaptable you are to changing circumstances.

And college, it's not just that it gives you a particular skill, but it also teaches you how to learn you know for your whole life.

Mota: Right.

The President: And you know so it's the key to the future. One of the things that we've done is to make sure that more young people have access to Pell Grants, more people have access to student loans that are lower interest rate.

Now I've proposed to make community colleges free for the first two years. And that's a good option for a lot of young people.

There're four-year colleges, but a lot of times you can go to a community college for your first two years and then transfer your credits and go to a four-year college. But you've already gotten your first two years free. And we know that it's already working in places like Tennessee. We want to take that all across the country.

And then what we've done is we've also said once you get out, if you've got some debt then we want to be able to cap how much you pay back to 10 percent of your income. So that if you decide to become a teacher or a social worker or some helping profession that doesn't pay a lot, you don't feel like well I can't do that job because my debt burden's going to be too high.

But the single most important thing for your viewers is number one, you'll be able to figure out a way to pay for college. But you got to be a smart shopper. You got to know ahead of time how much does a school cost.

If they tell you well, we'll help you finance it, don't worry, you've got to understand you're going to be taking on some debt. And what is it going to look like once you're finished.

Mota: Right.

The President: You should have some sense of whether you can get in- state tuition versus going to a school out of state because there may be a big difference in terms of cost.

And one of the things we're also doing is seeing if we can get more high schools to work with their local colleges so that while you're in high school you can start getting some college credits. That may make it quicker for you to get your college degree. And you know the quicker you get your degree the cheaper it's going to be.

Mota: That's awesome.

The President: Yes.

Mota: Thank you.

My next question I actually relate to on a very personal level because when I was younger I was cyber bullied, which affected me in a very big way. So I went online and I basically spoke about my story, which then a lot of my viewers online came to me leaving comments and asking for tips and advice on you know how I dealt with it.

And obviously you know I can give them tips based off of my experience. But sometimes I feel like I reach a point where I just can't help them as much as I would truly love to. So my question for you is how can we prevent that, prevent bullying in schools and online? Because it's something that happens on a daily basis.

The President: Well, I've got to say this is one area where I think your voice is more powerful than the president of the United States you know because peers are going to have more influence than anybody.

And when they see young people like you who are willing to speak out and say that's not right and protect other people from this kind of bullying, cyber bulling or any kind of bullying. That's what changes people's minds. That's what has an impact on them. Suddenly it's like oh I guess it's not so cool for me to do that because...

Mota: Right.

The President: ... somebody I respect or somebody who's like me is telling me you know to act differently.

So we had a big conference here at the White House in order to prevent bullying. And you know we had a whole bunch of organizations who came together and they were in workshops and looking at various ways of dealing with the issue. But the really most powerful testimonies came from students and young people like you who had organized themselves...

Mota: Right.

The President: ... and were going from campus to campus, school to school, going online and just explaining why you know that's -- you know that kind of bullying tactic is something we can guard against if everybody kind of speaks out against it and uses positive peer pressure to say that's just not acceptable.

So you're already doing it.

Mota: Thank you.

The President: I think you have better advice than just about anybody about it because you experienced it. You felt it.

Mota: Thank you so much.

The President: You bet.

Mota: So last April Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls. And just last month this actually happened again. And a lot of them are still missing.

The President: Yes.

Mota: So what do you think we can do to raise awareness about this issue, and also just prevent it from happening again?

The President: Well, as people may know or may not know, Boko Haram is a radical, violent, terrible extremist organization in Nigeria. And they kidnapped 200 young women. And are -- they're in many cases still being held. What we tried to do is to help the Nigerian government to deal with the problem. The Nigerian government has not been as effective as it needs to be in not only finding the girls, but also in stopping this extremist organization from operating inside their territory.

And what we're trying to do is mobilize other countries to try to give the Nigerian government more resources, not just military equipment but better intelligence, allowing them to track where these folks are, and to try to stop them. And you know it's hard.

But I tell you, the more young people are engaged in issues like this and speak out and let their elected officials know that they care about it, the more attention that is paid to it. And ultimately that's how you solve these problems.

And look, there are a lot of really heartbreaking situations all around the world. There are a lot of countries that are still struggling.

You know during your lifetime more people have come out of poverty and more people have been able to feel more secure around the world than probably any time in human history. But there's still a lot of bad stuff going on out there.

And that's why it's so important for young people like you to educate yourselves about the issues and to speak out and get involved. And over time -- we're not going to solve every problem overnight. But we can have some positive impact.

Mota: Yes. I completely agree.

My next question for you -- so, I was actually just in China. I travel a lot. And I connected to the Internet. And I couldn't help but notice I couldn't access the apps and the websites that I do back home. And I just felt kind of isolated from like the online global community.

The President: Right.

Mota: So how can we make them a part of that?

The President: Well, you know China and Russia and some other countries around the world that don't have a democratic government and don't have the same traditions of free speech and open Internet, they have recognized.

I think that the Internet's so powerful that if people start being able to communicate then they maybe start criticizing the government. And then they may be able to mobilize opposition. And things that are unfair or people who are being mistreated suddenly have a voice. So they're trying to keep a lid on things.

And we consistently, wherever we go, insist that issues like free speech and a free and open Internet, we think that that is part of who we are as a people. We think that that has value not just in America but everywhere. We obviously can't make laws in China. But what we can do is let them know and shine a spotlight on some of those practices and indicate to them that any government that is afraid of its own people and people just peacefully trying t speak out and voice their own opinions is over the long term not going to be as effective and as long-lasting as a government that trusts its people to be able to communicate freely.

Mota: Got it. Thank you so much.

So I'm going to be honest with you.

The President: Yes.

Mota: Before I came here to do this interview for YouTube I never really followed politics that much.

The President: You're not the only one.

Mota: A lot of my online audience and just the younger generation don't seem as interested in it. And I personally think that we should be. So my question for you is why should the younger generation be interested in politics? And why should it matter to them?

The President: Well, basically politics is just how do we organize ourselves as a society? You know how do we make decisions about how we're going to live together? So, young people care about how college is paid for?

Well, the truth of the matter is that the reason we even have colleges is that at some point there were politicians who said you know what? We should start colleges.

And dating back to Abraham Lincoln, who started something called the land grant colleges. And he understood that government should invest in people being able to get an education and having the tools to succeed.

Well, you guys are the ones who are going to be using these colleges and universities. And if they are not getting enough funding from government and your tuition goes up then you've got more debt.

You're the ones affected. So you better have a voice and know what's going on and who's making decisions about that.

Mota: You're right.

The President: You know if you care about an issue like you know making sure the gays and lesbians and transgender persons are treated fairly. Well, laws on the books can make sure that they're not discriminated against. But those laws only pass if politics allows those laws to pass.

You know the environment. I'm a lot older than you. You're going to be around a lot longer than I am. And if the climate keeps on getting warmer and we have more droughts and more floods and you know the oceans start dying off. You know it's going to be you and your children who are dealing with that.

We can stop it. But we can only stop it if we get together and we start using energy differently.

And so there's no decision in our lives basically that isn't touched in some way by the laws that we have. And we're really lucky that we live in a democracy where our voice matters. But if we don't participate -- it's sort of -- look.

I'll bet there're a bunch of your friends -- here's -- it's as simple as this. You decide you guys want to go see a movie, and you got a group of friends. And you know somehow you got to figure out which movie you're going to go see because not everybody's going to agree all the time.

You're going to have to have a debate. And you're going to have to make an argument. And then eventually -- so you're going to have to compromise...

Mota: Right.

The President: You know otherwise you guys aren't going to be hanging out together too much.

Well, the same is true for our country. You know we've got to make decisions about which direction we're going to go in, what we're going to be doing, how we're going to spend our money, how we're going to treat each other.

And you don't want to be the person that just says OK, whatever. Whatever you guys want to do, I'll just do that. You want to express your voice and your values and what you care about. And that's what politics is.

It's not really that complicated. It's just -- it's something that people do all the time with their friends and with their family. They negotiate. They compromise. They try to figure out how do we live together? And this is just done at a national level.

And some of the issues get pretty complicated. But usually the values are the same ones that you talk about all the time. How do we treat each other with kindness? How do we look after one another? How are we fair to each other?

You know and I think that young people usually have good instincts. But sometimes they just get turned off by all the noise and yelling on TV. And that's not how politics has to be.

Mota: Thank you so much.

The President: All right.

Mota: So my audience had a lot of fun questions for you so we're going to do a quick lightening round. OBAMA: OK. Lightening round, I'm really quick.

Mota: OK. So I know you have a lot to do, obviously...

The President: Yes, I do.

Mota: ... but if you have any free time, what TV show or movies do you watch?

The President: You know I'm really big on sports. So the truth of the matter is that I'm mostly watching SportsCenter.

Mota: All right.

The President: Whenever I'm working out in the gym, if there's a basketball game or a football game on I'm usually tuned in there.

Mota: Nice.

The President: Yes.

Mota: OK. What did you want to be growing up?

The President: I wanted to be a bunch of different things. I wanted to be an architect for a long time.

Mota: Wow. Nice.

The President: And I suppose in the back of my mind at some point I thought playing in the NBA would be great, being a basketball player. That ended around the age of 13 when I realized I wasn't talented enough.

Mota: Aw.

The President: It's OK. Things worked out pretty good.

Mota: I would say so.

The President: Yes.

Mota: I would definitely say so.

The President: Exactly.

Mota: And the last one is if you had any superpower what would it be?

The President: Any superpower? You know I guess like the flying thing seems pretty cool right, sort of zipping around and...

Mota: I would love it.

The President: You know. As long as you could stay warm.

The invisibility thing seems like a little sneaky to me you know. It's like what are you going to be doing with that? You're going to be listening in on people's conversations. You know I -- so the -- I guess the flying thing.

One time somebody asked me this and I gave an answer that my wife Michelle teased me. She thought this was really nerdy. But it's OK. I'll go ahead and tell you anyway.

And I don't know if this is a superpower, I'd love to be able to speak any language. I would love...

Mota: That's actually...

The President: ... anybody...

Mota: ... amazing.

The President: ... I met anywhere in the world I could just talk in their language. To me that would be really cool.

Mota: I love that.

The President: Isn't that a cool one?

Mota: I would love that too.

The President: Yes. But I don't think it'd make a really good movie. You know it's not that exciting.

Mota: It's a really good one though.

The President: See.

Mota: I've never heard that one before.

The President: All right. There you go.

Mota: Actually one more question for you.

The President: Yes?

Mota: Can you take a selfie with me?

The President: Let's do it.

Mota: All right. GloZell, Hank, get in here.

The President: Are you guys going to get in here? All right.

Mota: Group selfie.

The President: All right. Come on. All right.

Mota: OK. Ready?

The President: Everybody ready? All right. Oh, wait. Wait.

Mota: Wait. Hank, I can't really see you.

H. Green: I'm in there.

Mota: Got it.

The President: OK. My knees are a little -- can you -- I'm just kidding.

Grove: [inaudible], Mr. President. Thank you so much for your interview. We had a lot of fun with it today.

The President: No, no. Thank you so much. And I'm so proud of what you guys are doing because...

Mota: Thank you.

The President: ... this is the power of you know what the Internet's all about. You know you can create content and there's not all these barriers to entry. And suddenly you know you get millions of people who are listening to you and in a conversation with you.

And it's a great treat for me because more and more there're audiences that get turned off by the traditional news shows or the traditional debates. And so for me to be able to reach your audiences and just hopefully give them a sense of -- that what we do here in Washington, what government does actually matters, makes a difference in their lives. I hope it's been useful. All right.

G. Green: Yes.

Mota: Thank you so much.

The President: So good luck.

G. Green: Thank you.

The President: We're very proud of you. All right.

Mota: Thank you.

Grove: Just to our viewers, if you missed the first part of the interview or you want to watch it again, just go to Thanks, everybody. Goodbye.

The President: OK. Thanks, Steve.

Grove: Thanks, Mr. President. That was a lot of fun.

The President: No, you're welcome.

Grove: Thanks a lot.

The President: Yes. You guys are doing great.

Barack Obama, Interview with Steve Grove Director of News Lab at Google Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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