Anyone who has ever wondered what they did to have an Instagram feed full of targeted ads for control-top leggings knows there could be improvements made to the algorithm (no really, why do I get so many). Prince Harry, truly a man of the, “Fix it if it’s broke” mentality, gave his thoughts on the current state of social media. Harry has written an editorial for Fast Company in which he explains that social media is a huge mess right now, and it could probably use a makeover.
Harry begins by saying that for the past few weeks, he and Meghan Markle, have called various business leaders and corporate types to ask if they would make a commitment to fixing social media as it exists currently. Harry and Meghan believe we’re currently living in social media’s trash years, where everything is bad and smells like hashtag-scented garbage. According to Harry’s editorial letter, he and Meghan were inspired to tackle social media after the launch of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, a movement that attempted to hold Mark Zuckerberg accountable for allowing the spread of hate speech on Facebook.
“Our message was clear: The digital landscape is unwell and companies like yours have the chance to reconsider your role in funding and supporting online platforms that have contributed to, stoked, and created the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth.”
Harry explains they targeted business executives because businesses make a shit-ton of cash from online ad revenue, and it’s a bit problematic when they’re making all that ad money from sites that actively allow racism, sexism, homophobia – all that. Harry and Meghan also have a problem with certain social media companies selling user’s private information and data. And, there’s the whole issue with how social media can be used to promote misinformation.
Both Harry and Meghan believe that if you overhaul the social media system, it will be a better place for everyone, and businesses can feel like they’re not contributing in an evil way.
“We believe we have to remodel the architecture of our online community in a way defined more by compassion than hate; by truth instead of misinformation; by equity and inclusiveness instead of injustice and fearmongering; by free, rather than weaponised, speech. 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.”
And who will benefit from this new social media makeover? The children, who are facing the greatest danger coming at them since lead paint, apparently.
“In the 1970s, there was a groundbreaking study on the societal effects of lead exposure and kids. The research found a clear connection between lead accumulation in children and their mental development…We knew something was harmful to the health of our children, so we made the necessary changes to keep them safe, healthy, and well. Researchers I’ve spoken with are studying how social media affects people – particularly young people – and I believe the book of data that we will look back on one day will be incredibly troubling.”
Harry adds that we don’t have the luxury of time to deal with the issue, that it has to be done immediately. He points out that for the first time in history, digital ad spending will eclipse traditional ad spending (like billboards and TV commercials), which means the more money there is to be made, the less likely it will be that anyone is going to do anything about it.
“For companies that purchase online ads, it is one thing to unequivocally disavow hate and racism, white nationalism and anti-Semitism, dangerous misinformation, and a well-established online culture that promotes violence and bigotry. It is another thing for them to 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.”
I’m not sure if people like Bryan Adams will get on board. They might be a harder sell. But the hardest part about this plan is what to do after social media has been cleansed? Where will everyone’s conspiracy-spreading aunt gather her research to prove that the Democrats are exercising mind control through mandatory COVID masks? Harry, you need to figure that out first, or there will be an uprising of angry aunts!