Prince Harry Wants to Completely "Redesign" Social Media
He says social media is having a crisis of hate, health, and truth.
In a move that seems like a long time coming, Prince Harry called on social media platforms to be more responsible. In an op-ed for Fast Company, the former senior royal explained that social media, as it stands right now, is "unwell" and said that he and his wife, Meghan Markle, are working with "business leaders, heads of major corporations, and chief marketing officers" to try and implement change.
"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," Harry wrote.
He noted that the project started when he and Meghan launched Stop Hate For Profit, a civil rights and racial justice campaign that works to change policies around hate speech online, specifically at Facebook.
Harry goes on to say that while most people enjoy social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, and that — for now — it's a free way to get entertainment, information, and connections to friends and family, it's not actually free. He writes that in exchange for cute animal photos, memes, and reminders of family members' birthdays, social media platforms collect personal information.
"Every time you click they learn more about you. Our information, private data, and unknown habits are traded on for advertising space and dollars," he wrote. "The price we’re all paying is much higher than it appears. Whereas normally we’re the consumer buying a product, in this ever-changing digital world, we are the product."
Harry urged the leaders at each social platform to step up and be responsible for creating new standards for hate speech and work together with consumers, not ad-buying corporations, to create a place that's not capitalizing on misinformation and hate. He's calling for the companies 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."
But Harry adds that it's not just the social media platforms that have to step up. Users and consumers have to act, as well. He notes that by crafting spaces that are supportive and trustworthy, everyone can win.
"This approach must extend to the digital community, which billions of us participate in every day. But it shouldn’t be punitive," he continues. "When we do the right thing, when we create safe spaces both online and off — everyone wins. Even the platforms themselves."
To finish, Harry said that there's a lot of work that needs to be done and it can seem daunting, especially for someone that's not familiar with the algorithms, ad buys, and the digital world. However, he says that it needs to start, especially now that "spending on digital advertising is set to eclipse ad spending in traditional media." Harry also urged advertisers to take a stand and "demand change from the very places that give a safe haven and vehicle of propagation to hate and division."
Above all, he wrote, he hopes that social media can change from a place that divides people into a community built on joy and kindness.
"But this is just the beginning. And 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," he wrote.