Prince Harry has said he warned Twitter’s CEO before the US Capitol attack that his social media platform was being used to stage a coup.
The Duke of Sussex was speaking at Wired’s RE:WIRED 2021 conference on a panel discussing misinformation and said the problem pre-dated social media.
He said he warned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey the social media giant was “allowing a coup to be staged” a day before the January 6 riots.
Asked if he has spoken to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg or Twitter CEO Dorsey, Harry said he warned the latter his website was facilitating a coup on the eve of the attack.
He said: “Jack and I were emailing each other prior to January 6 when I warned him his platform was allowing a coup to be staged. That email was sent the day before. And then it happened and I haven’t heard from him since.”
A group of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building in Washington DC over claims the presidential election was rigged and the role social media giants played in enabling the attack is being investigated.
Harry, who was listed as the co-founder of Archewell at the RE:WIRED summit, works at think tank the Aspen Institute and looks into misinformation and disinformation in the media.
The 37-year-old, who lives in Southern California with Meghan and the couple’s two children, said the internet is “being defined by hate, division and lies.”
“That can’t be right,” he told the panel. “Especially for anyone who has children, we’re allowing this future to be defined by the very here and now. By exactly that which is greed and profit and growth.
“I would hope as human beings, as individuals with the ability of choice and decision-making they would worry more about people now, the safety of people but also what this means for the internet, a free internet but also what it means for the next generation and the generation after that and that and that and that.”
In his latest broadside at the British press, Harry invoked the memory of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales and again said his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, was receiving similar treatment.
He said: “They don’t report the news, they create it and they’ve successfully turned fact-based news into opinion-based gossip with devastating consequences for the country.
“So I know the story all too well. I lost my mother to this self-manufactured rabidness and obviously I’m determined not to lose the mother to my children to the same thing.”
Harry nodded to comments he made in a mental health series he appeared in earlier this year and said “they won’t stop until she’s dead” – a reference to Meghan.
He added: “It was more of a warning, not a challenge.”
Harry said “the scale of misinformation now is terrifying” and warned families are being “destroyed” by the problem.
Asked if users should delete their social media accounts, Harry noted he and Meghan are not on any platforms and will not return until changes are made.
He said it “simply isn’t true” that the challenge of misinformation “is too big to fix, it’s too big to solve”.
The duke said from his own experience, he and his wife are targeted by a small group of accounts.
He said: “More than 70% of the hate speech about my wife on Twitter could be traced to fewer than 50 accounts.”
Megxit – a word used to described the couple’s departure from royal duties – is a “misogynistic term” that was created by an online troll before it entered mainstream usage, Harry said.