As the first non-white woman to marry a senior member of Britain’s royal family, Meghan Markle has been subjected to appalling levels of racist abuse and trolling on social media.
Indeed, in the recent biography of the couple by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, it was revealed that Meghan was racially abused on her social media accounts using vile epithets.
Sources close to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have hinted to The Daily Beast in recent weeks that one of the main areas the couple wished to impact was digital responsibility, and harnessing the positive energies of social media and online networks.
The clearest demonstration of their interest in and focus on this new area of interest came Thursday, when the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) released a recording of a video conference call bringing together young leaders from its network with Meghan and Harry, specifically discussing social media and the role of the online world as a force for good. Harry and Meghan are President and Vice-President of the QCT respectively.
In a discussion that was described by their reps as “optimistic” the group discussed the “power and potential of digital communities, collaboration and positive behaviors to drive mass positive change at scale.”
Harry at one stage asks: “How can you shut down hate without sharing it, without fueling it?”
Meghan said: “Everyone’s mental and emotional wellbeing are perhaps more fragile than ever before, certainly with COVID and our dependability on devices right now in the absence of human interaction. People are going online more than ever before to feel community.”
She added that a “key piece of the puzzle” is for individuals to not give into the “noise” of social media and to choose not to share negative social media posts further if they want to make a difference.
Meghan, commenting on the reach of global platforms and the impact of the social media ripple effect said: “When you look at what these platforms are capable of with that reach, and what that propels in terms of trolling… You can either train people to be cruel, or you can train people to be kind. It’s really that simple.”
Meghan also said: “I think that what’s so key to it, as we talk about positivity and optimism and what a healthy online community looks like, is it’s not an echo chamber. It is trying to build a healthy community so people feel safe heard and perhaps walk away with a different perspective.”
Prince Harry earlier this month said social media was stoking a “crisis of hate,” and he appealed to companies to rethink their roles in advertising on digital platforms. In an opinion piece for business magazine Fast Company headlined, “Social media is dividing us.”