Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have warned that the online world is in a “crisis of hate”, as they call to change the nature of social media.
The Duke of Sussex penned a letter of appeal to the public, as he warned of a prevalence of intolerance in the digital landscape – asking for “empathy and kindness”.
“Amid a crisis of health, hate, and truth online, companies need to take a stand for a more compassionate digital world,” he wrote for Fast Company.
“A little over four weeks ago, my wife and I started calling business leaders, heads of major corporations, and chief marketing officers at brands and organisations we all use in our daily lives.”
“Our message was clear: The digital landscape is unwell and companies like yours have the chance to reconsider your role in funding and supporting online 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 35-year-old said that after many conversations with experts, he and his wife have come to the conclusion that society needs to “remodel the architecture of our online community in a way defined more by compassion than hate; by truth instead of misinformation; by equity and inclusiveness instead of injustice and fearmongering; by free, rather than weaponised, speech.”
Harry revealed that this issue was “especially concerning” to him as a father, worrying that online hate could effect the development of his one-year-old son Archie.
“In the 1970s, there was a groundbreaking study on the societal effects of lead exposure and kids,” he continued, “The research found a clear connection between lead accumulation in children and their mental development.”
“There’s no debate over the dangers of lead today, but at the time, the development was met with strong resistance from industry leaders (lead was used widespread in products like gas, house paint, and water pipes). Eventually, sweeping health and environmental reforms were put in place to change this.”
“We knew something was harmful to the health of our children, so we made the necessary changes to keep them safe, healthy, and well,” he said, comparing the study on lead to the negative impact of online hate on developing minds.
“Researchers I’ve spoken with are studying how social media affects people – particularly young people – and I believe the book of data that we will look back on one day will be incredibly troubling,” he added.
“Our hope is that it’s the beginning of a movement where we, as people, place community and connection, tolerance and empathy, and joy and kindness above all.”
“The internet has enabled us to be joined together. We are now plugged into a vast nervous system that, yes, reflects our good, but too often also magnifies and fuels our bad.”
“We can – and must – encourage these platforms to redesign themselves in a more responsible and compassionate way. The world will feel it, and we will all benefit from it,” he concluded the letter.
Last year, Harry released a lengthy statement announcing the couple would be taking legal action against Associated Newspapers for “bullying” his wife – fearing Meghan would suffer the same fate as his mother Princess Diana.
“As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world – on every level – we have never needed responsible media more,” the statement read.
“Unfortunately, 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 – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.”
“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.”
“For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.”
“There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. 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.”
“My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.”
“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces,” he shared.
On Wednesday as part of the ongoing case against Associated Newspapers, Meghan’s legal team successfully blocked the Mail On Sunday from naming five of her friends who spoke to the press last year.
Meghan is suing the publication for printing a “private and confidential” letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
The mother-of-one is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.
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