Prince Harry blames social media for digital ‘crisis of hate’ that led to US Capitol riots

Anthony France
·3-min read
<p>Prince Harry and Meghan have become increasingly outspoken on the role of social media </p> (AP)

Prince Harry and Meghan have become increasingly outspoken on the role of social media

(AP)

Prince Harry has accused social media giants of ‘stoking the conditions for a crisis of hate’ and said they played a role in the deadly US Capitol riots.

The Duke of Sussex made an impassioned appeal for online reform and said “time is running out”.

He said big-tech internet firms needed to be held accountable after supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the building in Washington on January 6. Five people died including a Capitol police officer.

In an interview with Fast Company magazine, the prince was questioned on how his social media views had changed following the riots.

Harry, 36, said he stands by his previous comments he made in an article he wrote last August for the American business media magazine.

He said social media giants had “stoked the conditions for a crisis of hate”.

In reference to the Capitol riots, he added: “There was a literal attack on democracy in the United States, organised on social media, which is an issue of violent extremism.

“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.”

Harry and wife Meghan, 39, who gave up their roles as active members of the Royal Family last spring, have become increasingly outspoken in their attempt to improve social media's role in society.

A pro-Trump mob confronting US Capitol police outside the Senate chamberGetty Images
A pro-Trump mob confronting US Capitol police outside the Senate chamberGetty Images

They shared what appeared to be their final post on their Sussex Royal Instagram account to their ten million followers last March.

However Harry denied a report earlier this month saying he and Meghan had left social media for good, saying he has seen how the platforms "can offer a means of connecting and community, which are vital to us as human beings."

Last month the couple launched Archewell, a non-profit media organisation, which includes a website and a Spotify podcast to highlight “different perspectives”.

Asked why social media was so important to him, Harry turned to his personal experience of suffering “the mothership” of harassment online.

"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,” he said.

“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. What happens online does not stay online - it spreads everywhere, like wildfire: into homes and workplaces, into the streets, into our minds.

“The question really becomes about what to do when news and information sharing is no longer a decent, truthful exchange, but rather an exchange of weaponry.”

Before the US election, Harry and Meghan urged Americans to “reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity” and register to vote.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US CapitolAFP via Getty Images
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US CapitolAFP via Getty Images

The prince said reforming social media was a “humanitarian issue”. He said he also partially blamed it for genocide in Burma and for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Harry commented on his surprise when he read recent reports in the media that he and the Duchess of Sussex had left sites including Facebook and Twitter.

"We woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago to hear that a Rupert Murdoch newspaper said we were evidently quitting social media.

"That was ‘news’ to us, bearing in mind we have no social media to quit, nor have we for the past 10 months."

But he suggested that they had not permanently rejected use of social media.

He added: “We will revisit social media when it feels right for us - perhaps when we see more meaningful commitments to change or reform - but right now we've thrown much of our energy into learning about this space and how we can help.”

Read More

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry donate lunch to volunteers

Royal aides refuse to take Meghan’s side in High Court privacy battle

US Capitol rioters aimed to ‘assassinate elected officials’

Meghan and Harry ‘quit social media’ over online ‘hate’