In a new article for Fast Company, Prince Harry called on social media platforms to redesign themselves after a “hate crisis, a health crisis and a crisis of truth.” Prince Harry said he and his wife, Megan, spoke by phone with a number of business leaders and heads of big companies in the social media space when some prominent advertisers boycotted Facebook in July.
“The researchers I spoke to were looking at how social media affected people — especially young people,” Harry wrote. “
Specifically, Harry likened false information on social media to lead poisoning, noting that when companies were introduced to the dangers of lead in the 1970s, they initially resisted the idea of reforming things like paint, water pipes and gasoline to make them safer. Eventually, more and more environmental and health problems have led to the introduction of new standards.
“We know that there are things that are harmful to children’s health, so we have made the necessary changes to ensure their safety and health.” He wrote.
Harry did not advocate any specific reforms, but called on leaders from social media to be better part of the solution.
“There are now billions of people — in a global pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives — relying on algorithmic feedback to judge facts and fiction, to judge truths and lies,” he wrote. “It can be said that obtaining accurate information is more important now than at any time in modern history. Yet it is those who allow the spread of false information to seem to give up when asked to take responsibility and find a solution. “
Advertisers also have a role to play, Harry writes. “It’s one thing for companies that buy online advertising to explicitly deny hatred and racism, white nationalism and anti-Semitism, dangerous false hoodies, and a mature online culture that promotes violence and bigotry,” he said. “It’s another thing that they use their leverage, including through their advertising money, to demand changes in places that provide safe havens and tools for hatred and division.”
Harry ends up calling social media “a huge nervous system” that reflects people’s strengths, but also magnifies the downside. “We can — and must — encourage these platforms to redesign themselves in a more responsible and compassionate way,” he wrote. “The world will feel this, and we will all benefit from it.”