Prince Harry has said the real cost of social media is high, as he blames online networks for creating a “crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth”.
The Duke of Sussex referred to the “digital landscape” as “unwell” and said it was stoking and creating conditions for the threefold crisis.
Writing in Fast Company, Harry confirmed the personal role he and his wife Meghan have been taking in the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which urged companies to withhold their advertising spend on Facebook in July, to encourage them to change their policies.
He said: “Many of us love and enjoy social media. It’s a seemingly free resource for connecting, sharing, and organising.
“But it’s not actually free; the cost is high.
“Every time you click they learn more about you. Our information, private data, and unknown habits are traded on for advertising space and dollars. The price we’re all paying is much higher than it appears.
“Whereas normally we’re the consumer buying a product, in this ever-changing digital world, we are the product.”
Harry said he and Meghan called “business leaders, heads of major corporations, and chief marketing officers” of companies to ask them to drop their advertising at Facebook in July, because they felt “it necessary to say our part about the rise of an unchecked and divisive attention economy”.
The prince’s message in Fast Company came shortly after it was confirmed that Meghan will take part in a virtual summit held by The 19th*, a new news agency, which she said she felt drawn to because of its commitment to stories by underserved women in America.
It also comes after it emerged he had a secret Instagram account, with the handle @SpikeyMau5, which he used to follow Meghan in the early days of their relationship.
In the Fast Company article, Harry went on to say companies who purchase advertising on social media have to “recognise that our digital world has an impact on the physical world”.
He called for a remodelling of the online community so it is defined more by compassion than hate and said redesigning online platforms would benefit the whole world.
He also confirmed reports that he and Meghan travelled to Stanford University earlier this year, where they met with academics and professors while they were planning for Sussex Royal.
After the deal with the Queen was worked out, they agreed not to use the word royal in any jurisdiction. Earlier this year it was confirmed they will call their future non-profit Archewell.
The duke spoke out about social media last Spring, calling it “more addictive than drugs or alcohol”.
When his relationship with Meghan was revealed in 2016, he also released a statement criticising “the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments” directed at her.