Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex gesture during their visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, on January 7, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON — Prince Harry has revealed he told Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that his platform was allowing a coup to be staged.
Speaking on a virtual panel for the RE:WIRED conference Tuesday, the Duke of Sussex said, “Jack and I were emailing each other prior to Jan. 6 when I warned him his platform was allowing a coup to be staged.”
He added, “That email was sent the day before and then it happened, and I haven’t heard from him since.”
The prince said he has not met Dorsey in person. Twitter declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.
The Capitol building was stormed by a group of Donald Trump supporters. In the weeks before the riot, there were calls for violence against Congress and the police on social media.
Harry criticized Twitter and Facebook for allowing misinformation to spread on their platforms, adding the scale of the problem is terrifying and no one is safe from it. It’s ruining lives and destroying families, he said. Facebook last month changed its corporate name to Meta.
“I learned from a very early age that the incentives of publishing are not necessarily aligned with the incentives of truth,” he said, adding that the U.K. press conflates profit with purpose and news with entertainment.
He added: “I know this story all too well. I lost my mother to this self-manufactured rabidness and obviously I’m determined not to lose the mother of my children to the same thing.”
Harry said his household won’t be on social media “until things change” but he believes change is possible. “We’ve been led to believe that this challenge is too big to fix or is too big to solve,” he said. “What I’ve learned over the last six months, as part of the Aspen commission, is that simply isn’t true.”
Harry is a member of the Aspen Commission on Information Disorder, which was set up by nonprofit the Aspen Institute to try to identify the most critical sources and causes of false information.
Small number of accounts cause most chaos
Harry said a small number of social media accounts are responsible for a vast chunk of misinformation, which are allowed to “create a huge amount of chaos online and disruption without any consequence whatsoever.”
He cited an independent report that found that more than 70% of the hate speech about his wife Meghan can be traced to fewer than 50 accounts, adding that British journalists interact and amplify what he described as hate and lies.
“The term ‘Megxit’ was and is a misogynistic term and it was created by a troll, amplified by royal correspondents,” he said. “It grew and grew and grew onto mainstream media.”
On Facebook, Harry said a dozen accounts are responsible for more than 65% of made-up and harmful misinformation. “Yet they’re still there,” he said.
People are being “enlisted” when it comes to the media and social media because they want to believe in something now more than ever, Harry argued.
The prince also took aim at YouTube, pointing to a report that found 70% of videos on the platform were in violation of YouTube’s own policies on misinformation.
Facebook and YouTube did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.