Prince Harry is highlighting misinformation on the internet and how the tech companies must do more to put a stop to the “hate, division and lies” – but also, all of us.
Speaking by video at The Internet Lie Machine conference organised by US tech and culture magazine WIRED, the Duke of Sussex called misinformation “a global humanitarian crisis” opening up about his own experience with online hate campaigns and gossip:
“I’ve felt it personally over the years and I’m now watching it happen globally, affecting everyone, not just America but literally everyone around the world. And the scariest part about it is you don’t need to be online to be affected by this.”
Referring to his experience with the UK press, he says he learned at an early age, “the incentives of publishing are not necessarily aligned with the incentives of truth.”
“They don’t report the news, they create it. And they successfully turn fact-based news into opinion-based gossip with devastating consequences for the country.”
“I know the story all too well. I lost my mother to this self-manufactured rabidness and obviously I’m determined not to lose the mother of my children to the same thing.”
Prince Harry also spoke about the accounts which are allowed by the social media platforms “to create a huge amount of chaos online, and destruction, without any consequences” and that this becomes particularly dangerous when journalists or publishers give credibility to their lies.
As an example, he referred to the term “Megxit” (widely used by the British press to describe his decision with Meghan to step down from royal duties) which was a word created by a troll, but picked up by royal correspondents and spread across mainstream media.
After being asked whether he’s had an opportunity to present his case to the major social media platforms, Harry explained that he did reach out to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey prior to January 6, the day of the U.S Capitol riots: “I warned him that his platform was allowing a coup to be staged. That email was sent the day before. And then it happened, and I haven’t heard from him since.”
During the conference, Harry explained how we’re now living in a world of bespoke realities and that no one is safe from misinformation. But there is a solution to the problem, and it isn’t about giving up social media or the internet altogether:
“If we’re aware of our digital diet, what we consume every day, then perhaps we’d be more conscious of what we pass on, what we don’t, what we’re actually consuming and the fact that it is actually affecting the way that we think.”
He also called on publishers and journalists to fight against misinformation within their own industries: “I strongly believe that collectively as human beings, we have the ability to make change within the systems in which we operate.”
(Feature Image Credit: Bart Lenoir/Shutterstock)