Prince William criticizes social media firms for letting 'conspiracy pollute the public sphere'

  • Prince William criticized social media companies during a visit to the BBC on Thursday.
  • He called on the sector to come together to tackle issues such as cyberbullying and data protection.
The Duke of Cambridge makes a speech during a visit to BBC Broadcasting House.
Ben Stansall | WPA Pool | Getty Images
The Duke of Cambridge makes a speech during a visit to BBC Broadcasting House.

Prince William criticized social media firms for failing to take action to prevent wide-spread issues such as cyberbullying and misinformation campaigns.

In a speech delivered at the BBC on Thursday, the Duke of Cambridge said the sector had allowed "misinformation and conspiracy to pollute the public sphere."

"The tools that we use to congratulate each other on milestones and successes can also be used to normalize speech that is filled with bile and hate," he said. "The websites we use to stay connected can for some create profound feelings of loneliness and inadequacy."

He urged companies to come together to tackle the issues.

"Surely you can connect with each other about smart ways to deal with the unintended consequences of these connections," he said, adding that big tech still had "a great deal to learn about the responsibilities that come with significant power."

"The journey from inventors in the student dormitory to the leaders of some of the most valuable companies on Earth has been so fast that they may struggle to understand that their incentives have changed," he told an audience at the BBC.

"The noise of the shareholders, bottom lines, and profits is distracting them from the values that made them so successful in the first place … They are so proud of what they have built that they cannot hear the growing concern from their users."

Prince William was visiting the BBC with his wife the Duchess of Cambridge to trial a newly developed internet safety app.