Harry and Meghan criticise tech companies for ‘passing the buck’ over online safety

Harry and Meghan
The Sussexes have been outspoken critics of the way such firms handle child safety - BRYAN BEDDER/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have warned that “the best parenting in the world” cannot keep children safe from social media.

The couple told technology companies including Meta, TikTok, and X (formerly Twitter) that it was time to make the changes needed to keep young people safe online, rather than passing “the buck of responsibility”.

Prince Harry and Meghan issued a statement after the chief executives of several social media giants gave evidence before the US Senate Judiciary Committee, in front of parents whose children suffered or died because of online harm.

The Sussexes have been outspoken critics of the way such firms handle child safety and have been working for many months with families who lost children due to social media pressures.

In a statement on their Archewell website, the couple said: “We applaud the bravery and determination of the thousands of parents around the country whose advocacy resulted in this hearing.

“Over the past few years, we have spent time with many of these families, listening to their heartache and their hopes for the urgent change that is needed in the online space.

“This is an issue that transcends division and party lines, as we saw today at the Senate hearing. The best parenting in the world cannot keep children safe from these platforms.”

They added: “As one of the fathers shared with us: ‘If love could have saved them, all of our children would still be here’.

“This is not the time to pass the buck of responsibility. It’s the time to make necessary changes at the source to keep our children safe.”

‘You have blood on your hands’

During the congressional hearing on Wednesday, Republican senator Lindsey Graham told Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg and others: “I know you don’t mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands. You have a product that’s killing people.”

Mr Zuckerberg stood up at one point to address dozens of parents in the audience, some of whom held up pictures of teenagers who killed themselves following abuse on social media.

He told them: “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through.”

The Sussexes’ statement was accompanied by a video of the couple at the Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit in October last year, which focused on mental wellness in a digital age to mark World Mental Health Day.

They were seen hugging parents who shared their harrowing experiences.

Speaking at the event, the Duke said they began working with the families who had “suffered the greatest loss” when they realised how many were in their position and that no one was bringing them together.

Many are part of a group from the Social Media Victims Law Centre, a US-based legal practice working to hold social media companies to account for harm.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg stood up to address dozens of parents in the audience - ANNA MONEYMAKER/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

The Duke said the focus was on allowing them to “heal together, to grieve together but also to focus on a solution so that no other family anywhere has to go through what they’ve been through.”

“There’s nothing wrong with these kids… It’s the world that we’re allowing to create around them,” he said.

Prince Harry called for more transparency and more awareness. He said that if the shareholders of tech companies could accept they might make “a little less profit” to guarantee a safer space, they could stop the suffering.

“Once you go down that rabbit hole you get pulled in,” he said.

“Otherwise, before you know it, your very healthy, super happy, confident, successful child, who has nothing wrong with them, is taking their own life.”

Meanwhile, Meghan said that although their children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, were only four and two, social media was “not going away”.

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