The Duke of Cambridge has accused social media firms of not being proactive enough about dealing with fake news, privacy issues and cyber-bullying.
In a speech given at the BBC, Prince William said social networks had allowed “misinformation and conspiracy to pollute the public sphere”.
“Their self-image is so grounded in their positive power for good that they seem unable to engage in constructive discussion about the social problems they are creating,” he warned.
The prince and the Duchess of Cambridge had been invited to the BBC to try out a new internet safety app.
During their visit, the royal couple met children and their parents who had helped design it.
“The tools that we use to congratulate each other on milestones and successes can also be used to normalise speech that is filled with bile and hate. The websites we use to stay connected can for some create profound feelings of loneliness and inadequacy,” said the Prince in his speech.
The prince said tech firms had a “great deal to learn” on responsibility.
“Social media companies have done more to connect the world than has ever been achieved in human history. Surely you can connect with each other about smart ways to deal with the unintended consequences of these connections,” he said.
“You can reject the false choice of profits over values. You can choose to do good and be successful.”
The BBC put the prince’s criticism to Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.
He said part of the challenge was figuring out how to balance the privacy users wanted against a desire to do more to crack down on bad behaviour.
“I do think there’s some trade-off on some of these issues between privacy and some of the safety work,” Mr Zuckerberg said.
“A lot of what we are trying to do is architect the systems to give people really good privacy too.
“This is why these are big and important questions, and why broadly across society people don’t necessarily agree on actually where you should draw the line.”
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