Prince William Slams Social Media Leaders for Normalizing 'Speech That Is Filled With Bile and Hate'

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, slammed social media giants for their inability to protect children from cyberbullying. As part of his Cyberbullying Taskforce campaign, William spoke at the BBC and criticized the "defensive" attitude major social media outlets have taken with regard to the ongoing spread of hate speech and "supercharged" bullying that occurs online as a result of expanded social media, according to a report by The Telegraph on Thursday.

In his speech, William accused some of the world's most popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube of failing to combat the ongoing bullying some children were subject to on their platforms. He also blasted social media outlets for failing to take responsibility for the role the platforms have in spreading hate speech. Through his campaign, William worked with social media sites as well as Apple and Google in an attempt to resolve the hateful rhetoric targeting children online. "What I found very quickly though was that the sector did not want to own this issue," William said.

"I heard doubts being cast about the sale of the problem," he continued. "I was told that companies were already doing plenty and just needed more credit for it. I saw denials about the age of young children on some of our most popular platforms. And crucially I heard over and over again that a collective approach—across the industry with charity partners, ISPs [internet service providers], researches and parents—just wouldn't work."

Although William said he was worried that technology companies don't understand the "responsibilities that come with their significant power," he was most concerned with social media companies not putting challenges like "fake news, extremism, polarization, hate speech, trolling, mental health, privacy, and bullying" at the forefront of business strategies. "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 they are creating," he said.

"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. The platform that can allow you to celebrate diversity can also be used to cocoon yourself in a cultural and political echo chamber. The new ways we have to access news from across the world are also allowing misinformation and conspiracy to pollute the public sphere," William continued.

He added: "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. The websites we use to stay connected can for some create profound feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. And the apps we use to make new friends can also allow bullies to follow their targets even after they have left the classroom or the playing field."

The eldest of Queen Elizabeth II's grandchildren charged social media platforms to do more to "fight back against the intolerance and cruelty that has been brought to the surface by your platforms."

Prince William Slams Social Media Leaders for Normalizing 'Speech That Is Filled With Bile and Hate' | Culture