Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, laid the responsibility of monitoring and blocking cyberbullying at the feet of tech companies during a powerful speech at the BBC on Thursday.
The duke was speaking during anti-bullying week in the U.K., according to People, and how the rise of fake news, social media, and online trolling is affecting today’s youth.
He called on tech companies to “reject the false choice of profits over values,” and to tackle the problem of cyberbullying before more young lives are lost to it.
“You have powered amazing movements of social change. Surely together you can harness innovation to allow us to fight back against the intolerance and cruelty that has been brought to the surface by your platforms. And you have brought families together in ways that were previously unimaginable. Surely you can partner with parents to make the online world a safe place of discovery, friendship and education for their children.”
He added that doing what is right can go hand in hand with success, without hurting the company or the shareholders to help keep the world a safe place for children and teens. William noted concern that tech giants are too busy focusing on their success to realize that their platforms are being used to hurt people they could be protecting.
“You can reject the false choice of profits over values. You can choose to do good and be successful. You can work in the interest of the children and parents who use your products and still make your shareholders happy.” – The Duke of Cambridge to Social Media companies pic.twitter.com/LXretdiT5c— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 15, 2018
Back in November 2017, William set up a cyberbullying task force to tackle the issue. Since becoming a father to Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, William and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, worry about the effect online bullying could have on their children and their children’s peers.
According to the duke, the couple has “grappled with this, we felt a distinct absence of guidance. Should we read our children’s messages?” Both of them feel there is a lack of guidance as to how to care for children in a cyber universe, and they had to contemplate whether their children should be allowed to have phones and tablets in their rooms as they grow up.
William also shared how he has come face to face with unthinkable tragedy while working as an Air Ambulance pilot and traveling around the country campaigning on mental health.
“I met families who had suffered the ultimate loss. For too many, social media and messaging was supercharging the age-old problem of bullying, leaving some children to take their own lives when they felt it was inescapable.”
While he praised the work of social media creators for bringing people from all over the world closer together, he also pointed out that many people use these platforms to bring harm instead, whether it be through organizing violence or ensconcing themselves in a “cultural and political echo chamber.”
The duke called on tech creators and companies to realize the massive responsibility they have in also protecting the people they bring together and expressed grave concern that many of them seem to be way behind the times in terms of this safety issue.