Prince William Gives Speech About Social Media, Cyberbullying, and Fake News


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During his appearance at the BBC in London with Kate Middleton today, Prince William delivered a powerful speech that targeted social media, cyberbullying, and fake news. Reporters are pointing out that the address was one of the Duke of Cambridge’s hardest-hitting yet.

As a member of the Cyberbullying Taskforce, Prince William called out how social media platforms, created as a means to connect with other people, can be used to spread misinformation or hateful speech.

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“We have seen that the technology that can allow you to develop an online community around a shared hobby or interest can also be used to organize violence,” he said. “The platform that can allow you to celebrate diversity can also be used to cocoon yourself in a cultural and political echo chamber. The tools that we use to congratulate each other on milestones and successes can also be used to normalize speech that is filled with bile and hate.”

William and Kate speak to children and parents about cyberbullying.

Getty ImagesBEN STANSALL

Although he made his speech in the U.K., William’s words are relevant to American listeners as tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, continue to struggle with the spread of false news and hate groups on their platforms after the 2016 election.

“I am worried though that our technology companies still have a great deal to learn about the responsibilities that come with their significant power,” William later added, making it clear that he spoke out of hope rather than anger.

“I am very concerned though that on every challenge they face—fake news, extremism, polarization, hate speech, trolling, mental health, privacy, and bullying—our tech leaders seem to be on the back foot,” he continued.

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William went on with another jab at tech companies: “Their self-image is so grounded in their positive power for good that they seem unable to engage in constructive discussion about the social problems that they are creating.”

And: “The noise of shareholders, bottom lines, and profits is distracting them from the values that made them so successful in the first place.”

He also accused the businesses of being “so proud” that they “cannot hear the growing concern from their users.”

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Prince William speaking at the BBC in London today.

Getty ImagesBEN STANSALL

But the Duke of Cambridge’s speech wasn’t a complete roast; he also offered words of encouragement. He urged social media companies to “connect with each other,” be more transparent with their users, and “fight back against the intolerance and cruelty” on their platforms.

“You can reject the false choice of profits over values. You can choose to do good and be successful,” the Duke added at the end of his speech. “You can work in the interest of the children and parents who use your products and still make your shareholders happy. We not only want you to succeed. We need you to.”

Read the Duke of Cambridge’s speech in full here.





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