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Time: Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Discuss Misinformation With Silicon Valley’s Biggest Critics

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October 20, 2020 at 07:02PM

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Anyone who has watched The Social Dilemma already knows that technology has fundamentally warped the way we see the world. But Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have become invested in holding technology companies accountable for the misinformation spread on platforms like Facebook. For a special TIME100 Talks hosted by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the couple sat down with two experts Tristan Harris, a Silicon Valley veteran who co-founded the Center of Humane Technology and appeared in The Social Dilemma, and Safiya Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression.

During the discussion, Noble touched on Meghan’s own experience being the target of online hate. Noble explained that if you are part of a community “targeted with hate, disinformation, calls for genocide, calls for racist violence against you, misogyny, as Meghan I know you know so profoundly, the technologies are able to…amplify those kinds of messages and those kinds of harms,” says Noble. “The harms don’t just live in the platform. They often extend to shaping behaviors that people also act upon.”

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Harris added that technology companies’ profit imperative thrives on disinformation, controversial opinions or fake news. “They are competing to seduce us with that promise of virality,” he says, citing the hashtags that promise billions of views on a single TikTok video. “But of course that doesn’t reward what’s true, what’s credible, or what is really good for society.”

And though he suggests that people try to take back control of what content they do and don’t choose to consume, ultimately, he argues, individuals simply cannot put down their phones in a world that relies so heavily on tech: “To make it a personal responsibility for a systemic, oppressive issue is what’s inhumane.”

It’s up to the tech companies to self-regulate their content—or, failing that, governments to step in and impose restrictions. When Meghan and Harry asked how the truth might win out over virility, both Noble and Harris cast doubts as to whether the tech companies could be trusted to self police: Noble argues they have failed to do so, calling them “foxes guarding the henhouse”.


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