Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are working to educate others about the role that online communities can play in people’s lives offline.
While hosting a specially curated edition of TIME100 Talks, Harry and Meghan spoke with Edward Felsenthal, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of TIME, about the state of our shared digital experience and why it’s important to create online communities that are more compassionate, safe, and trustworthy—a building block of the Sussexes’ nonprofit Archewell.
“What our job is, especially throughout these conversations, is to get people to listen to the experts and for them to explain how what’s happening in the online world is affecting the world,” Harry said. “It is not restricted to certain platforms or certain social media conversations. This is a global crisis: a global crisis of hate, a global crisis of misinformation and a global health crisis.”
During a time when the boundaries between many people’s physical and online lives have never been more blurred, the Duchess of Sussex says that the couple has begun connecting the dots between many of the causes that they’re passionate about—like women’s empowerment, mental health and the environment—and online spaces.
“Both of us realized that we can continue to champion these things that we’re passionate about. We can continue to do this work to try to affect change and help the people who need it most or the communities or environments that need it most, but it’s almost like you’re taking two steps forward and five steps backward if you can’t get to the root cause of the problem,” she said. “Which at this point right now we see in a large way as a lot of what’s happening in the tech space.”
Noting that they convened leaders in the tech world that they think can help make people more aware of these problems—including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Center For Humane Technology co-founder Tristan Harris and UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry co-director Safiya U. Noble—for Tuesday’s TIME100 Talks, the Duke and Duchess addressed why it’s imperative to make online communities healthier for everyone.
“This isn’t just a tech problem. This isn’t solely a mental health or emotional wellbeing problem,” Meghan said. “This is a human problem. And what’s happening to all of us online is affecting us deeply offline.”
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