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Meghan Markle on Social Media’s Toxic Impact: “Even if It’s Making Dollars, It Doesn’t Make Sense”

Meghan Markle had critical words for female online bullies who targeted her while she was pregnant, saying their comments were “not catty, it’s cruel” — and also took aim at the big tech platforms that hosted those posts.

Addressing the keynote panel at the opening day of the 2024 SXSW conference, the Duchess of Sussex addressed online toxicity that had been directed toward her.

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“I keep my distance from it right now for my well-being, but the bulk of the bullying and abuse I was experiencing in social media and online was when I was pregnant with Archie and with Lili, and with a newborn, with each of them,” she told the packed audience that included her husband, Prince Harry, who was sitting front row.

“You just think about that and to wrap your head about why people would be so hateful. It’s not catty, it’s cruel. Why you would do that when you’re pregnant or as a mom, at such a tender and sacred time,” she said.

Markle was appearing on the panel titled “Breaking Barriers, Shaping Narratives: How Women Lead on and off the Screen,” alongside Katie Couric, Brooke Shields and Nancy Wang Yuen, which was moderated by Errin Haines.

“You could either succumb to it, nearly succumb to how painful that it is, and maybe in some regards, because I was pregnant, that mammalian instinct just kicked in, you do everything you can to protect your child, and as a result, protect yourself too,” she said about the online bullying.

Without naming specific companies, Markle also criticized the social platforms that provide an outlet for hate, saying “even if it’s making dollars, it doesn’t make sense.

“I cannot make sense of that, because I understand that there are certain platforms, today is a really good example, this is being streamed on one of those platforms, and it’s also fantastic because people are going to have access to hear all of this brilliance and all of this insight, and at the same time, it’s a platform that has quite a bit of hate and rhetoric and incentivizes people to create pages where they can churn out very, very inciting comments and conspiracy theories that can have a tremendously negative effect on someone’s mental health, on their physical safety,” she added, seemingly referring to YouTube, which was streaming the panel.

Markle went on to single out Netflix chief content officer Bela Bajaria as a female in the entertainment industry who has been a trailblazer when it comes to improving representation for women and diversity. “She’s in that role and in that role in a position of power you are able to then share that more broadly so we can all feel more seen.”

Markle and Prince Harry signed a reported $100 million production deal with Netflix in 2020 and have released three projects with the streamer. The same year, the duo also inked an exclusive Spotify deal, which ended last year.

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