Prince Harry has said that “time is running out” for social media companies to address misinformation which he believes is a threat to democracies.
He has called for more accountability for platforms, accusing them of shunning responsibility, and highlighted both the role that they played in the US Capitol riots earlier this month and the treatment of the Rohingya population in Myanmar.
Prince Harry, who also spoke about the online “harassment” that he and his wife Meghan have faced, told website Fast Company: “We have seen time and again what happens when the real-world cost of misinformation is disregarded.
“There is no way to downplay this. There was a literal attack on democracy in the United States, organised on social media, which is an issue of violent extremism.
“It is widely acknowledged that social media played a role in the genocide in Myanmar and was used as a vehicle to incite violence against the Rohingya people, which is a human rights issue.
“And in Brazil, social media provided a conduit for misinformation which ultimately brought destruction to the Amazon, which is an environmental and global health issue.
“In a way, taking a predominately hands-off approach to problems for so long is itself an exercise in power.”
Prince Harry, 36, said that “we are losing loved ones to conspiracy theories, losing a sense of self because of the barrage of mistruths, and at the largest scale, losing our democracies.”
He added: “The answer I’ve heard from experts in this space is that the common denominator starts with accountability.
“There has to be accountability to collective wellbeing, not just financial incentive.
“It’s hard for me to understand how the platforms themselves can eagerly take profit but shun responsibility.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down as senior royals last March and moved to Los Angeles with their son Archie.
Meghan, 39, has previously spoken of the difficulties of coping through pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood amid the pressures of press interest in her public life as a member of the royal family.
On the treatment they have faced from sections of the media, Prince Harry said: “I was really surprised to witness how my story had been told one way, my wife’s story had been told one way, and then our union sparked something that made the telling of that story very different.
“That false narrative became the mothership for all of the harassment you’re referring to. It wouldn’t have even begun had our story just been told truthfully.”