Prince Harry said he hopes his children will ‘never experience the online world as it exists now’ and has blasted social media companies for making ‘unimaginable money’ from users’ attention – as he launches an ‘online safety toolkit’ for children.
The Duke of Sussex, who is currently living in his $ 14 million mansion in California having stepped back from royal duty last year, spoke via video link from his home in California on Monday at the launch of the 5Rights Foundation’s Global Child Online Safety Toolkit.
The duke hailed 5Rights’ ‘ground-breaking work’ in calling for a safer digital world for young people.
The event was titled Making Child Online Safety a Reality and saw Prince Harry speak with young people from around the world to discuss what was needed to make child online safety a reality.
The duke opened up about his ‘two little ones’, Archie, three and 11-month-old Lilibet, and wanting to protect them from the online world, whilst calling for urgent reform to protect young people.
Speaking during the webinar this evening, Harry said: ‘As parents, my wife and I are concerned about the next generation growing up in a world where they are treated as digital experiments for companies to make money and where things like hatred and harm are somehow normalized.
‘We want our children and all children to feel empowered to speak up.
‘My two little ones are still at their age of innocence. Sometimes I feel like I can keep them away from the online harm that they could face in the future forever, but I’m learning to know better. ‘
Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, previously claimed she quit her social media accounts for her own self preservation – and said the ‘bad voices’ online are ‘so loud and damaging’.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are ‘concerned’ about young people using social media and being treated like ‘digital experiments’ where ‘hatred and harm is normalized’. Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Archie, three and 11-month-old Lilibet
The event was titled Making Child Online Safety a Reality and saw Harry speak with young people from around the world to discuss what was needed to make child online safety a reality
Harry added: ‘Wherever you are and wherever you’re listening from, I predict that your family, like mine, understands that the way we experience technology and social media isn’t working and needs to be fixed.
‘I’m not an expert on law or technology but I am a father – and I’m lucky enough to be a father with a platform.
‘My kids are too young to have experienced the online world yet and I hope they never have to experience it as it exists now. No kid should have to.
‘It’s easy to say the business model of the internet and social media is broken, but it’s not. The internet business model is doing exactly what it is meant to do, pull us in, keep us scrolling, get us angry or anxious – or make us numb to the world around us.
‘Social media makes unimaginable money from our time, our attention and our information.’
The event also featured speakers from the United Nations, African Union and European Union.
It is unknown what fee, if any, the Duke received for his appearance.
The duke continued: ‘Technology will continue to shape all our futures which is why we should rewrite the rules of engagement when it comes to the way we design and experience it. We need new laws, public pressure, and we need continued research into what some of the biggest companies in the world are hiding behind closed doors.
5Rights Foundation announced the presence of a ‘special guest’ when they trailed the webinar last week
‘We are at a critical moment, where it will take all of us working together to listen and respond to make sure every child can grow up in a digital age that allows them to thrive.
Young people tell him the online world is causing them harm. The parents I talk to tell me that they are terrified about losing their kids to suicide. ‘
Experts could earn more than £ 1million each time they make a speech after signing up with an elite agency.
5Rights Foundation described the toolkit as a ‘roadmap for policymakers and practitioners building a digital world that supports children and enables them to flourish, online and beyond.’
News of the webinar was first announced by 5Rights last week.
The charity said in a tweet: ‘We’re thrilled that Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex will be joining us at the launch of the Child Online Safety Toolkit on 16 May to discuss how we can make the online world safer & kinder, especially for children. ‘
Prince Harry today helped launch an ‘online safety toolkit’ for children. The Duke of Sussex, who is currently living in his $ 14 million mansion in California having stepped back from royal duty last year, spoke in a webinar run by the youth charity 5Rights Foundation
5Rights Foundation is a British charity founded by Baroness Beeban Kidron, to help children and young people participate in the digital world ‘creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly.’
It’s far from the first time the Duke has spoken out about his concerns over the digital world.
Last year, Prince Harry was one of 15 commissioners and three co-chairmen who conducted a six-month study into the digital ‘avalanche of misinformation’ on behalf of the Aspen Institute based in Washington DC.
The report called for ‘increasing social media transparency and disclosure’, a ‘new proposal regarding social media platform immunity’ and ‘ideas for need reversing the collapse of local journalism and the erosion of trusted media’.
Other ‘solutions’ that were given in the report include pushing for ‘community-led methods for improving civic dialogue and resisting imbalances of information power’; and ‘accountability for’ superspreaders ‘of online lies’.
The Duke and Duchess joined New York-based Harry Walker Agency, which represents the Obamas and the Clintons, last year
The London based foundation shared a tweet announcing the news online last week, saying they hoped to make the online world ‘safer and kinder’ for children
The duke’s push to combat fake news may raise eyebrows in some quarters, given that he and his wife Meghan Markle were accused of making various questionable statements in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March this year.
Meanwhile he claimed in an online panel called ‘The Internet Lie Machine’ that he and his wife have been the target of trolls online, even though they do not have individual accounts on social media.
He said: ‘I’m not on social media, we’re not on social media, and until things change that will remain the same.’
He said social media sites should take responsibility and not spread ‘hate and lies’ after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed a tranche of documents which alleged the tech giant was placing profit above user safety.
The Duke and Duchess joined New York-based Harry Walker Agency, which represents the Obamas and the Clintons, last year.
PR expert Mark Borkowski told The Sun the pair will ‘clean up’. They plan to be available for talks on social issues including racial justice, gender equality, the environment and mental health, according to the LA Times.
‘I’m surprised they have not done this sooner. It will be one of the great income generators for them. The speaker’s circuit is a natural safe space for them to plunder, ‘he added.