07 August 2020

Harry accuses social media of creating a crisis of ‘hate, health and truth’

07 August 2020

The Duke of Sussex has accused social media giants of stoking a “crisis of hate” and called on advertisers to use their spending power to transform the industry.

Writing for US-based business magazine Fast Company, the duke outlined his and his wife Meghan’s efforts to help the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.

He revealed they had personally been calling on heads of major corporations, asking them to suspend their advertising revenue from social media sites that fail to tackle hate speech.

Harry said their message to them was to reconsider supporting platforms that have “contributed to, stoked and created the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health and a crisis of truth”.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which was spearheaded by a number of NGOs, saw companies withhold a total of seven billion dollars (£5.4 billion) in advertising revenue from internet sites over the month of July.

The duke said that social media had turned its users into its product.

“Every time you click, they learn more about you. Our information, private data and unknown habits are traded on for advertising space and dollars,” he wrote.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex (PA Wire)

He called on tech companies to “remodel the architecture of our online community” to ensure it is defined by compassion, truth and inclusiveness rather than hate and fearmongering.

The duke compared the damaging influence of social media on children with the discovery in the 1970s that lead accumulation impaired their mental development.

“We knew (lead) was harmful to the health of our children, so we made the necessary changes to keep them safe, healthy and well,” he said.

He added: “When we do the right thing, when we create safe spaces both online and off, everyone wins. Even the platforms themselves.”

He finished with the words: “The world will feel it, and we will all benefit from it.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been outspoken on the subject of online bullying and harassment by the media.

Meghan is currently embroiled in a bruising High Court battle with the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline over an article which reproduced parts of a “private and confidential” handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.

Announcing the action in October last year, Harry said in a statement: “My wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences.”

He said: “Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people.

“We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.”

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