In recent months, Prince Harry has proven he’s not afraid to speak up for what he believes in. Harry has gone through a series of personal and professional life changes in 2020, and he’s now focusing on making a difference in how the world uses the internet. Prince Harry’s essay about how social media is dividing us is so powerful.
In June, Harry and Meghan teamed up with the Stop Hate for Profit campaign to boycott Facebook advertising amid the company’s continued failure to address and stop the spread of ads that contain hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism, and disinformation. On Thursday, Aug. 6, Harry expressed his concern about the negative use of social media in an essay for Fast Company, detailing the “opportunity to do better and remake the digital world.”
Harry shared: “From conversations with experts in this space, we believe we have to remodel the architecture of our online community 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.”
Now is the time for change, Harry said, explaining that we must move forward with a plan in order to keep our children safe. “Researchers I’ve spoken with are studying how social media affects people—particularly young people—and I believe the book of data that we will look back on one day will be incredibly troubling,” he explained.
“Around the world, for many reasons, we are at turning point—one that has the potential to be transformative,” Harry continued. “In all areas of life, a rebuilding of compassionate, trustworthy communities needs to be at the heart of where we go. And this approach must extend to the digital community, which billions of us participate in every day. But it shouldn’t be punitive. When we do the right thing, when we create safe spaces both online and off—everyone wins. Even the platforms themselves.”
Harry wrote that “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,” and explained that “social media’s own algorithms and recommendation tools can drive people down paths toward radicalism and extremism that they might not have taken otherwise.”
Harry said he and Meghan have spoken with “leaders across the racial justice movement, experts in humane tech, and advocates of mental health” to address the effects of social media. “One could argue that access to accurate information is more important now than any other time in modern history,” he said.
Harry concluded his essay with a call to action for companies that purchase social media ads. “We need meaningful digital reform, and while the role of policymakers and regulators is important, we can’t just wait for them to take the next steps,” he wrote. “This is a moment for companies around the world—companies with business and advertising models directly tied to digital platforms—to consider how they can bring about reform to ensure the betterment of all.”
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