By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Prince Harry delivered strong words for social media companies and those that advertise on them in a new op-ed in which he calls for the social media world to reform.
“We’ve always believed that individuals and communities thrive when the frameworks around them are built from compassion, trust, and wellbeing,” Harry wrote in Fast Company, referring to himself and his wife Meghan. “Sadly, this belief is at odds with much of what is being experienced by people on social media.”
“We have an opportunity to do better and remake the digital world,” Harry wrote in the technology magazine. “This remodeling must include industry leaders from all areas drawing a line in the sand against unacceptable online practices.”
Harry revealed in the op-ed that last month he and Meghan started calling business leaders, marketing officers and heads of major corporations to ask them to reconsider their roles in funding social media platforms that he says have “contributed to, stoked, and created the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth.”
Harry said he and Meghan believe the “architecture of our online community” needs to be remodeled, putting “compassion,” “truth” and “inclusiveness” ahead of “hate,” “misinformation” and “injustice and fearmongering.”
“This remodeling must include industry leaders from all areas drawing a line in the sand against unacceptable online practices as well as being active participants in the process of establishing new standards for our online world,” he wrote. “Companies that purchase online ads must also recognise that our digital world has an impact on the physical world — on our collective health, on our democracies, on the ways we think and interact with each other, on how we process and trust information.”
Harry and Meghan and their 15-month-old son Archie are currently living in Los Angeles, having moved there earlier this year from the U.K. when they stepped back as senior members of the royal family.
Harry described the concerns he has as a dad on the effects a toxic social media world can have on children, and noted that when it comes to reform, “We do not have the luxury of time.”
“If we are susceptible to the coercive forces in digital spaces, then we have to ask ourselves — what does this mean for our children?,” he wrote. “As a father, this is especially concerning to me.”
“We all need a better online experience,” he wrote. “We’ve spoken with leaders across the racial justice movement, experts in humane tech, and advocates of mental health. And the collective opinion is abundantly clear: We do not have the luxury of time.”
Harry and Meghan have been working on the issue of reforming social media for some time, having visited Stanford University earlier this year for a discussion on the topic, ABC News understands.
Making social media platforms a safer, less divisive environment will be a major new focus of the couple’s work and will be a key part of their charity, Archewell, which will be aimed at creating compassionate, empathetic and strong communities, both offline and online.
Harry and Meghan reached nearly 11 million followers on their Sussex Royal Instagram in less than a year. The couple stopped using the account at the end of March, when it was decided they would not use their Sussex Royal brand in their new roles as non-working royals.
Harry described his and Meghan’s work so far on social media reform as just the “beginning of a movement.”
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
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