Prince William is boycotting social media until May 3

By Phil Boucher
April 30, 2021 02:48 PM
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Prince William
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Prince William is standing up to social media bullying.

The Duke of Cambridge announced Friday that he's joining a four-day social media boycott organized by England's high-profile soccer clubs and their players.

The boycott, which will run until Monday, May 3, hopes to encourage social media companies to take stronger action against racist and sexist abuse online.

Signing his name "W," William, who is head of English soccer's governing body, The Football Association, tweeted Friday: "As President of the FA I join the entire football community in the social media boycott this weekend."

A message alongside read, "This weekend we join the football community in the UK in uniting for a social media boycott from 3pm on Friday 30 April to 11.59pm on Monday 3 May, in response to the sustained abuse received online by players and many others in the football community."

The soccer-led campaign has received widespread support among England's leading players including Raheem Stirling of Manchester City, who posted that he was joining the campaign "in response to sustained and ongoing online abuse." Stirling himself has been the victim of online racism in the past.

Other leading sports bodies have joined the campaign, including England Rugby and English Cricket. Seven-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton has also darkened his social media channels "To stand in solidarity with the football community."

"There is no place in our society for any kind of abuse, online or not, and for too long it's been easy for a small few to post hate from behind their screens," Hamilton posted on Instagram, Friday.

"While a boycott might not solve this issue overnight, we have to call for change when needed, even when it seems like an almost impossible task."

THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE JOINS REGIONAL CALL WITH NHS LEADERS IN THE EAST OF ENGLAND
Prince William
| Credit: Kensington Palace

While William, Kate Middleton, and most other members of the royal family have used social media extensively to connect with the public throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the issue of online abuse is something they are keenly aware of.

In January, William called out the "despicable" racist comments that continue to be made about some prominent soccer players in Britain.

"Racist abuse — whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media — is despicable and it must stop now," William said in an Instagram post.

"We all have a responsibility to create an environment where such abuse is not tolerated, and those who choose to spread hate and division are held accountable for their actions. That responsibility extends to the platforms where so much of this activity now takes place," he continued.

Kate Middleton and Prince William call nurses at Ulster University
Kate Middleton and Prince William talk to trainee nurses
| Credit: Kensington Palace

"I commend all those players, supporters, clubs and organisations who continue to call out and condemn this abuse in the strongest terms. W"

In November 2017, William also spoke out about the wider pressures of social media on children and young adults.

Speaking at a circus-themed gala celebrating the partnership between medical charity The Children's Trust and one of his key charities, Skillforce, the Duke described social media as giving kids a sense "of being 'on call' 24/7"  

"The pressure on young people these days is considerable — almost certainly more than even for my generation not so long ago," William added. "The subsequent strains this can have on relationships, home life and, ultimately, a child's sense of their own self-worth. It can all take its toll."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also been outspoken critics of negative social media.

In October 2020, Meghan described herself as "the most trolled person in the entire world, male or female" on the Teenager Therapy podcast — hosted by five seniors at an Anaheim, California, high school.

Meghan also described social media as being like "the Wild, Wild West" in her March sit down with Oprah Winfrey, stating that she was deeply affected by "the volume of what was coming in" via social media.

Oprah With Meghan And Harry
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
| Credit: CBS/Youtube

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Shortly after Harry, 36, and Meghan's relationship became public in 2016, the Duke of Sussex also made a rare public statement slamming the racist and sexist comments being directed at her online, citing "the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments."

His statement continued: "It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game.' He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his."