Prince Harry is well aware that social media is a powerful tool—one that can be utilized for both good and evil.
In a recent Q&A with Fast Company, the 36-year-old Duke of Sussex spoke about the dangers of online misinformation, and how hate-fueled conspiracy theories played a role in the deadly U.S. Capitol riots. Harry, who has publicly called for social media reform, doubled down on his belief that major online platforms have failed to regulate harmful content and, as a consequence, helped stoke “conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth.”
“… We are losing loved ones to conspiracy theories, losing a sense of self because of the barrage of mistruths, and at the largest scale, losing our democracies …” he explained. “We have seen time and again what happens when the real-world cost of misinformation is disregarded. There is no way to downplay this. There was a literal attack on democracy in the United States, organised on social media, which is an issue of violent extremism.”
Earlier this month, it was reported Harry and Meghan Markle had stepped away from social media for good. The Duke said he and his wife, who both surrendered their “royal highness” titles over a year ago, were a bit surprised by the headlines, as neither of them haven’t had social media accounts for the past 10 months; however, he said the hiatus may only be temporary, as he knows how useful these platforms can be when it comes to personal connections and promoting good causes.
“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,” he said. “We need to hear each other’s stories and be able to share our own. That’s part of the beauty of life … There can be disagreement, conversation, opposing points of view—as there should be, but never to the extent that violence is created, truth is mystified, and lives are jeopardised.
“We will revisit social media when it feels right for us—perhaps when we see more meaningful commitments to change or reform—but right now we’ve thrown much of our energy into learning about this space and how we can help.”