AceShowbiz - Prince Harry, who mostly stayed away from talking about politics while he was still an heir to the U.K. throne, has spoken up on the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the role of social media in it. Seeing an irresponsible use of social media as a threat to democracy, the Duke of Sussex calls for a change.
"The avalanche of misinformation we are all inundated with is bending reality and has created this distorted filter that affects our ability to think clearly or even understand the world around us," he says of the danger of false information and how social media has been affecting real life. "What happens online does not stay online - it spreads everywhere, like wildfire: Into our homes and workplaces, into the streets, into our minds. The question really becomes about what to do when news and information sharing is no longer a decent, truthful exchange, but rather an exchange of weaponry."
"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," Harry says in an interview with Fast Company. "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, organized on social media, which is an issue of violent extremism," he laments.
Pointing out other events that he claims social media played role in, the 36-year-old adds, "It is widely acknowledged that social media played a role in the genocide in Myanmar and was used as a vehicle to incite violence against the Rohingya people, which is a human rights issue. And in Brazil, social media provided a conduit for misinformation which ultimately brought destruction to the Amazon, which is an environmental and global health issue."
He goes on urging, "We should avoid buying into the idea that social media is the ultimate modern-day public square and that any attempt to ask platforms to be accountable to the landscape they've created is an attack or restriction of speech. I think it's a false choice to say you have to pick between free speech or a more compassionate and trustworthy digital world. They are not mutually exclusive."
Asking for a change, the prince says there has to be accountability "to collective wellbeing, not just financial incentive," as he criticizes the notion of profiting from online platforms without taking responsibility of the impact. "It's hard for me to understand how the platforms themselves can eagerly take profit but shun responsibility," he adds.
There was a report that Harry and Meghan Markle, who shut down their official account, after stepping down as senior members of the royal family, were "very unlikely" to return to social media. Asked about their future plans for using online platforms, the father of one responds, "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."