About a year after stepping back as a senior member of the royal family, Prince Harry reflected on how the British media helped amplify the vitriol against wife Meghan Markle. The Duke of Sussex, 37, called the phrase Megxit “misogynistic” during a panel on misinformation and propaganda for Wired’s virtual conference, RE:WIRED on Tuesday, Nov. 9. Prince Harry joined Renée DiResta, technical research manager at Stanford Internet Observatory, and Rashad Robinson, president of civil rights advocacy organization Color Of Change, for a discussion entitled “The Internet Lie Machine.”
"Misinformation is a global humanitarian crisis”
Highlights from Prince Harry’s #REWIRED2021 session, where he spoke about working with @AspenInstitute, warning @Jack about a “coup” the day before the Capitol riot, and the journalists who repeat harmful lies invented by trolls. pic.twitter.com/t728fK6Us5
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) November 9, 2021
During the discussion, Prince Harry reflected on how online hate and “trolls” permeated into his life with wife Meghan, 40, following their exit as senior royals. “Maybe people know this and maybe they don’t, but the term Megxit was or is a misogynistic term, and it was created by a troll, amplified by royal correspondents, and it grew and grew and grew into mainstream media,” he said. “But it began with a troll.” He also cited a recent study from analytics service Bot Sentinel that revealed a “coordinated campaign” of hate speech against the Sussexes, initially reported by BuzzFeed.
“More than 70 percent of the hate speech about my wife was driven by fewer than 50 accounts, and perhaps the most disturbing part of this was the number of British journalists who were interacting with them and amplifying the lies,” Prince Harry said. “But they regurgitate these lies as truth.” The royal’s inclusion in the panel on Tuesday is pegged to his work for the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder. He joined the institute as commissioner in March to figure out ways to combat the “avalanche of misinformation” in the digital world.
“The experience of today’s digital world has us inundated with an avalanche of misinformation, affecting our ability as individuals as well as societies to think clearly and truly understand the world we live in,” the duke said in a statement at the time, per CNN Business. “It’s my belief that this is a humanitarian issue, and as such, it demands a multi-stakeholder response from advocacy voices, members of the media, academic researchers, and both government and civil society leaders.”
During the panel on Tuesday, Prince Harry explained that online hate could seep into everyday life, even referencing his late mother Princess Diana. “This problem did not originate on social media, and you don’t have to be online to be affected by it,” he said. “I learned from an early age that the incentives of publishing are not aligned with the incentives of truth. I know the story all too well. I lost my mother to this self-manufactured rabidness, and I don’t want to lose the mother of my children to the same thing.”