Prince Harry Says He Warned Twitter CEO of U.S. Capitol Riot
Britain’s Prince Harry has sharply attacked the failure of social media companies to challenge hate online, revealing that he warned the chief executive of Twitter ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots that the site was being used to stage political unrest.
Harry spoke Tuesday during an online panel discussing misinformation in California. His concerns were sent via email to Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, the day before the Washington riots.
“Jack and I were emailing each other prior to January 6 where I warned him that his platform was allowing a coup to be staged,” Harry said at the RE:WIRED tech forum. “That email was sent the day before and then it happened and I haven’t heard from him since.”
Twitter declined to comment on Harry’s remarks.
The social media platforms have been criticised for failing to stop misinformation spreading and inciting violence. Many cite the example of online hatred spreading like wildfire by Trump supporters, such as the storming of Washington’s Capitol.
The role of social media platforms in amplifying extremist views has come into sharp focus after revelations by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who has told lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe that the company’s algorithmic systems spread online hate and that it has no incentive to change behavior because it puts profits over safety.
Harry also targeted YouTube, saying many videos spreading COVID-19 misinformation were left up despite violating the site’s own policies.
“And worse, they came to the users via the recommendation tool within YouTube’s own algorithm versus anything that the user was actually searching for,” he said. “It shows really that it can be stopped but also they didn’t want to stop it because it affects their bottom line.”
Harry is a strong advocate against false information on the internet. He joined the Aspen Institute in America earlier this year as an Aspen Institute commissioner, focusing on misinformation and disinformation within the media.
Both the royal and his wife, Duchess Sussex, frequently spoke out about media interference and racism that forced them to leave their royal duties and relocate to North America in 2020.
“Misinformation is a global humanitarian crisis,” Harry said. “I felt it personally over the years and I am now watching it happen globally.”
Harry spoke Tuesday and referred to a report that found more than 70% hate speech directed towards his wife Meghan could be traced back to less than 50 accounts. Misinformation can lead to lives being destroyed, he said.
“A small group of accounts are allowed to create a huge amount of chaos online, and destruction,” he said. “And without any consequence whatsoever.”