Prince William attacks tech firms for failing to combat cyber-bullying in hard hitting speech

Robert Jobson
Prince William delivered the speech on Thursday evening: PA

Prince William today attacked the world’s top tech firms for failing to combat cyber bullying and trolling on social media.

In one of his hardest hitting speeches, the Duke of Cambridge highlighted the dangers of the internet at a speech at the BBC’s broadcasting house.

Warning of the dangers of not taking action to stop cyber bullying, William said, “I am worried though that our technology companies still have a great deal to learn about the responsibilities that come with their significant power.

“I say this not in anger. Again, I believe that our tech leaders are people of integrity who are bringing many benefits to our lives and societies.

“I am very concerned though, that on every challenge they face – fake news, extremism, polarisation, hate speech, trolling, mental health, privacy, and bullying – our tech leaders seem to be on the back foot.

William made the speech at BBC Broadcasting House, in London (PA)

“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 that they are creating,” he said.

He praised the Stop, Speak, Support, campaign which is now rolling out to schools across the country, and said it is just one of the things we should be celebrating.

He added, “I am so grateful to you all for the time, expertise, and resources you have contributed. It hasn’t been easy, but I believe our attempt to work collaboratively has been instructive for the rest of the world.

“We launched our commitments one year ago. And when we did, I told the taskforce members that I would be honest in assessing what we achieved and what we did not. And that’s what I’m going to do today,” he said.

He went on, “We have seen that the technology that can allow you to develop an online community around a shared hobby or interest can also be used to organise violence.

“The platform that can allow you to celebrate diversity can also be used to cocoon yourself in a cultural and political echo chamber.”

William warned of the dangers of not doing enough to stop cyber bullying (REUTERS)

William Warned: “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.

“And the apps we use to make new friends, can also allow bullies to follow their targets even after they have left the classroom or the playing field.”

In cyberbullying he warned, “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 unescapable.

“I felt that I might be able to make a difference on this issue. I did not have the answers, but I did have the ability to invite the brightest leaders and researchers in social media to sit around the table, to listen to parents and children, and see what we might do together to make the online world safer and happier for our young people.

Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall listens during a visit by Prince William (Getty Images)

“What I found very quickly though was that the sector did not want to own this issue.

“I heard doubts being cast about the scale of the problem. I was told that companies were already doing plenty and just needed more credit for it.

“I saw denials about the age of young children on some of our most popular platforms.

“And crucially I heard over and over again that a collective approach – across the industry, with charity partners, ISPs, researchers, and parents – just wouldn’t work. The individual platforms were just too different and user expectations too complicated to try to come up with common tools that could be easily understood by children, parents and teachers.”