Prince Harry says social media has created 'a crisis of hate' and calls for reform

The Duke of Sussex wrote an opinion piece calling for businesses to pressure social media companies to change by witholding their advertising dollars.
/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Prince Harry has issued a call to social media companies to redesign digital platforms that have "created the conditions for a crisis of hate."

The Duke of Sussex wrote a first-person opinion piece for the business magazine Fast Company in which he addressed the negative effects of social media, noting that he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have been calling business leaders in recent weeks arguing for change. He did not specify which companies they have contacted.

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"Our message was clear: The digital landscape is unwell and companies like yours have the chance to reconsider your role in funding and supporting online platforms that have contributed to, stoked, and created the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth," he wrote.

He also outlined the downside of using social media networks.

"Well, many of us love and enjoy social media," he wrote. "It’s a seemingly free resource for connecting, sharing, and organizing. But it’s not actually free; the cost is high. Every time you click they learn more about you.

"Our information, private data, and unknown habits are traded on for advertising space and dollars. The price we’re all paying is much higher than it appears. Whereas normally we’re the consumer buying a product, in this ever-changing digital world, we are the product."

Harry called on business leaders to use their advertising dollars as leverage to force social media companies to change. He noted the success of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which has enlisted more than 1,100 businesses to pull millions of dollars in advertising from Facebook in a bid to force the company to take action to stop hate speech on its platform.

"It shouldn’t be seen as a coincidence that the rise of social media has been matched by a rise in division amongst us globally," Harry wrote. "Social media’s own algorithms and recommendation tools can drive people down paths towards radicalism and extremism that they might not have taken otherwise."

Harry and Meghan said goodbye to their Sussex Royal Instagram account in March after stepping away from their duties as members of the British royal family. They do not currently have any social media accounts.

They also have had an ongoing legal dispute with the London tabloids, which included a court victory for Meghan this week in protecting the anonymity of five of her friends who gave an interview defending her in People magazine last year.

The former Meghan Markle also touched on the ills of social media during a virtual speech at the U.N. Foundation’s 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit last month.

"Your generation is often referred to as digital natives, and you understand that our online world has the power to affirm and support as much as it does to harm," she said.

Harry called on social media platforms to make changes "in a way defined more by compassion than hate; by truth instead of misinformation; by equity and inclusiveness instead of injustice and fearmongering; by free, rather than weaponised, speech."

"We can—and must—encourage these platforms to redesign themselves in a more responsible and compassionate way," he wrote. "The world will feel it, and we will all benefit from it."