Prince Harry believes social media is creating divisions among people, and it is the responsibility of all advertisers to push back. In an article published on Fast Company, the Duke of Sussex, who, unlike other members of the Royal family, holds more leftist views, explained how he thinks advertisers could help create a better online world by calling for more Facebook censorship.
He starts the piece by saying how he and his wife, former actress Meghan Markle, contacted business leaders and marketing officers from different brands to focus their attention on online speech.
According to the prince, advertisers should stop using social media platforms because they are contributing to “a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth.”
He also applauded the efforts of the Stop Hate For Profit campaign, which urged advertisers to suspend advertising through Facebook. The campaign, organized by the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League, and Colors of Change, sent “a $7 billion message through withheld ad dollars.” Despite the boycotts, Facebook had a record quarter.
The Duke of Sussex also feels that social media is being used for weaponized speech instead of free speech and misinformation instead of truth. For these reasons, advertisers should help “remodel the architecture of our online community.”
“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 explained.
He reminded advertisers that the digital world has an impact on the physical world. As such, how we interact with others on social media will eventually affect our interactions in the real world.
He then compared the “unwell” digital world with the harmful effects of lead poisoning discovered in the ‘70s. The studies linking lead exposure to harmful health effects in children were “met with strong resistance from industry leaders.” But eventually, people took a stand, and there was reform.
Similarly, according to Harry, it is time the right stakeholders took a stand so that the necessary reforms in the digital world can begin.
Harry acknowledges that it is the role of policymakers to make “meaningful digital reform.” But, he believes businesses advertising on social platforms can bring about reform because they have leverage and because spending on digital advertising is increasing. Apparently, disavowing hate and racism is not enough. Advertisers should “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.”
He commended GARM (Global Alliance for Responsible Media) for their commitment to finding a universal definition of hate speech. He hopes that is the “beginning of a movement where we, as people, place community and connection, tolerance and empathy, and joy and kindness above all.”