Just over two weeks after the Capitol Attacks, Prince Harry is speaking out on why social media platforms should be held accountable.
Having previously written an essay on creating a more compassionate digital landscape for Fast Company, the Duke of Sussex turned to the publication again to urge change since “the stakes are too high, and time is running out.”
In response to the attacks, a number of platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube suspended Donald Trump while Apple and Amazon responded by no longer offering Parler — the network that the rioters allegedly used.
“There is no way to downplay this. There was a literal attack on democracy in the United States, organized on social media, which is an issue of violent extremism,” he said of the attacks. Harry likened the use of social media to the same way it has been used in the genocide in Myanmar and in the destruction of the Amazon in Brazil.
Holding social media accountable, doesn’t mean taking away “free speech.”
“I think it’s a false choice to say you have to pick between free speech or a more compassionate and trustworthy digital world. They are not mutually exclusive,” he added to Fast Company.
While Prince Harry did speak about the changes that need to be made, part of which his and Meghan Markle’s Archewell Foundation is focused on through partnerships, he also opened up about the harassment the two of them faced by the tabloids.
“I was really surprised to witness how my story had been told one way, my wife’s story had been told one way, and then our union sparked something that made the telling of that story very different,” he said, adding that the “false narrative” led to the persecution.
“But the important thing about what we experienced is that it led to us hearing from so many others around the world,” Harry continued. “We’ve thought a lot about those in much more vulnerable positions than us, and how much of a need there is for real empathy and support.”
Prince Harry described the current digital space as something that affects everyone from “seeing a loved one go down the path of radicalization or as collective as seeing the science behind the climate crisis denied.”
After learning from experts, Harry said the “common denominator” to solving online problems “starts with accountability.”
He named limiting “time you spend on social media,” fact-checking and “taking a more compassionate approach and tone when you post or comment” as things we can all do.
And as for the rumours that he and Meghan are “quitting” social media. “That was ‘news’ to us, bearing in mind we have no social media to quit, nor have we for the past 10 months,” he said. “We will revisit social media when it feels right for us.”
“The truth is, despite its well-documented ills, social media can offer a means of connecting and community, which are vital to us as human beings,” Harry continued.
Concluding, “We have to believe in optimism because that’s the world and the humanity I want for my son, and all of us. We look forward to being part of the human experience — not a human experiment.”
For more on how the reports that Harry and Meghan “quitting” social media were false, check out the clip below.