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Prince Harry in challenge to online world: 'This is a global crisis - of hate, of misinformation, and health'

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read

Prince Harry has said there is a global crisis of hate and misinformation as he and his wife Meghan Markle curated a series of talks based on ‘engineering a better world’.

The couple moderated some talks and interviewed experts on digital topics for TIME 100, focusing on topics they will put at the heart of their non-profit organisation Archewell.

Harry and Meghan have not yet been able to launch Archewell, the organisation they confirmed for their post-royal life, because of the coronavirus pandemic, but have given a glimpse on what it will cover through projects in recent weeks.

A source close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said the talks were based on the work they’re doing to create a better digital environment.

In the talks, which were aired on TIME’s social media pages, Meghan interviewed her friend Serena Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, and she and Harry sat in on a talk between Tristan Harris and Safiya Noble.

The couple revealed they are big fans of Harris, who is the president of the Center for Humane Technology earlier this year. Dr Noble is the author of the best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism.

Read more: Who are Brené Brown and Tristan Harris? The influencers Harry and Meghan 'absolutely adore'

Harry and Meghan speaking to Dr Noble and Tristan Harris. (TIME)
Harry and Meghan speaking to Dr Noble and Tristan Harris. (TIME)

Asked how they were, the duchess said: “All things considered, everyone is grappling with a different version of the same thing and we are trying not to miss a single moment of our son’s growth and development.”

After highlighting the need to ask people how they truly are, Harry added: “This is an opportunity to spend more time as a family than we probably would otherwise.”

Speaking about how they brought the list of talks together, the Duchess of Sussex said: “It can feel really overwhelming to try to understand all the nuance of what happens online. It is all-encompassing and it affects us at a multi-faceted level.

“And so we started with professors and experts in the field, with defectors from some of the largest platforms, neurologists—people to really help us view it through a holistic approach.

“And in that there have been relationships, and now friendships, that we have formed with a lot of these people who have a shared goal of wanting to make this space healthier and better for all of us.”

The Duke of Sussex added: “What is happening in the online world is affecting the world. It is not restricted to certain platforms or certain social media conversations or groups.

“This is a global crisis—a global crisis of hate, a global crisis of misinformation, and a global health crisis.”

Read more: Meghan Markle's history of campaigning against racism – from her early acting days to royal court cases

The couple is to host the virtual conversation about building a digital world. (Matt Sayles)
The couple hosted the talks from their new home in Santa Barbara. (Matt Sayles)

Asked about giving up his Reddit board position and asking to be replaced by a BAME person, Ohanian revealed he is still receiving hate mail for the move.

He explained he made the decision for his daughter, but that it would benefit everyone.

Meghan said: “I’m sorry you’re still receiving hate mail - I know we have shared experiences in being in inter-racial marriages and raising mixed race children.”

Ohanian later said: “Much of my perspective I only got when I started dating my wife, and then we had our daughter.

“I did not realise until I was in a relationship with someone who has achieved as much as she had and still deals with all of this... and now as a father I can’t help but want to create a world that is fair to my daughter. I know that’s lofty but I want to strive everyday to make it a little better.”

Watch: Meghan and Harry urge Americans to vote

Read more: It's love versus duty: Harry and William rift 'as serious as the abdication'

Also in the curated talks were the five teenagers who run the Teenager Therapy podcast, which Harry and Meghan joined earlier this month for World Mental Health Day, and Rachel Cargle, a writer and lecturer who was interviewed by Alice Park, TIME Senior Health Correspondent.

A source told Yahoo UK Meghan joined Cargle, founder of the Loveland Foundation earlier this month to speak to the Loveland community about the importance of destigmatising and promoting access to mental health resources, particularly for people from BAME communities.

Harry moderated a conversation between Renée DiResta and Maria Ressa. DiResta is the technical research manager at Stanford Internet Observatory, while Ressa is the founder of media organisation Rappler.

Harry praised the younger generations for cross checking claims they see on social media, but said that many people end up creating echo chambers because they don’t know their news feed is being generated specifically for them and what they have looked at.

Closing the talks, Meghan said: “I hope that everyone comes away with one action item that everyone realises they can do in their own homes, and lives that will have a positive effect on how they interact with themselves and others. It doesn’t have to be so big, the impact we see is in all the small things.”

Harry added that he hoped people would see positivity and urged people to “take back control” of their social media.

The couple hosted the talks from their new home in Santa Barbara, which they moved into after staying in a friend’s home when they moved to California in March.

Watch: Harry and Meghan saw Archie’s first steps in lockdown