Prince William is addressing one of the toughest challenges facing the next generation.
The royal visited the BBC with wife Kate Middleton on Thursday and delivered a speech in support of the “Stop, Speak, Support” campaign, the royal discussed the complicated role of social media in modern life and the cyberbullying endemic therein.
“Over a decade ago, when social media first became a standard part of daily life, there was so much justifiable reason for optimism,” William remarked.
“We have seen that the technology that can allow you to develop an online community around a shared hobby or interest can also be used to organize violence,” he said. “The platform that can allow you to celebrate diversity can also be used to cocoon yourself in a cultural and political echo chamber. The new ways we have to access news from across the world are also allowing misinformation and conspiracy to pollute the public sphere.
“The tools that we use to congratulate each other on milestones and successes can also be used to normalize speech that is filled with bile and hate,” William continued. “The websites we use to stay connected can for some create profound feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. And the apps we use to make new friends can also allow bullies to follow their targets even after they have left the classroom or the playing field.”
William explained that despite being motivated by “the right things,” social media users have created “a culture of defensiveness is undermining the sector’s relationship with the public.”
The 36-year-old father of three called on social media companies to make a real effort to change and confront issues of hate and cyberbullying.
“You can reject the false choice of profits over values. You can choose to do good and be successful,” he said. “You can work in the interest of the children and parents who use your products and still make your shareholders happy. We not only want you to succeed. We need you to.”