Prince Harry and Meghan Markle worked with civil rights groups to boycott Facebook earlier this summer

By Ashley Boucher
August 07, 2020 12:09 AM
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Prince Harry
| Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Prince Harry is speaking out about the pitfalls of social media, saying there is an "opportunity to do better and remake the digital world."

In an essay for Fast Company published Thursday, the Duke of Sussex said that a "better online experience" is crucial for people across the globe relying on social media sites for information.

"One could argue that access to accurate information is more important now than any other time in modern history," Harry wrote. "And yet, the very places that allow disinformation to spread seem to throw their arms up when asked to take responsibility and find solutions."

Harry had a sense of urgency in the piece, saying that he and Meghan Markle have 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 urged businesses to move beyond statements disavowing "hate and racism, white nationalism and anti-Semitism, dangerous misinformation, and a well-established online culture that promotes violence and bigotry" and to put their ad dollars into action.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Gareth Fuller-Pool/Getty

"It is another thing for them to use their leverage, including through their advertising dollars, to demand change from the very places that give a safe haven and vehicle of propagation to hate and division," Harry wrote. "We’re hopeful to see this approach amongst industry leaders become reality."

Mentioning groups like Stop Hate For Profit and the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, which are working on pushing companies to send messages with withheld ad dollars and evaluating online standards around hate speech, Harry said that "this is just the beginning."

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"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," Harry wrote.

"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."

Last month, Harry and Meghan "called C.E.O.s at some of Facebook’s biggest ad buyers and implored them to stop their ad purchases,” the New York Times reported.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Mark Zuckerberg announced last month that Facebook would be implementing policies to prohibit hate speech from appearing in its ads.

Sources close to the couple previously told PEOPLE that online hate speech is a major issue the Duke and Duchess are tackling.

"As we've been developing Archewell, one of the areas The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been keen to address is online hate speech, and we've been working with civil rights and racial justice groups on it," a source said.

"Over the past few weeks, in particular, this issue has become even more vital and they have been working to encourage global CEOs to stand in solidarity with a coalition of civil and racial justice groups like the NAACP, Color of Change, and the Anti-Defamation League, which are calling for structural changes to our online world," the source added.