Prince Harry joins the U.S. work force to…fight misinformation?

Prince Harry joins the U.S. work force to…fight misinformation?

Image: Peter Nicholls-WPA Pool/Getty Images

By Christianna Silva

Finally, Prince Harry, the millionaire Duke of Sussex, is getting to work.

The self-exiled prince is joining the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder as a commissioner, the Institute announced on Monday. He’s joining 14 other commissioners and three co-chairs — journalist Katie Couric, Color of Change president Rashad Robinson, and former director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chris Krebs. The group will help conduct a six-month study on the state of misinformation and disinformation in the U.S., according to CNN.

“Powered by algorithms and shared ideologies, people often get affirmation instead of information, where facts are manipulated if not completely ignored,” Couric said in a statement about the new commission. “This ‘truth decay’ is a tremendous threat, not only to a well informed electorate, but to democracy itself.”

It might sound odd for the former Duke of Sussex to help study misinformation, but it’s something he’s been outspoken about in recent months. In a January interview with Fast Company, he said that “time is running out” for social media companies to address misinformation.

“We have seen time and again what happens when the real-world cost of misinformation is disregarded.”

“We have seen time and again what happens when the real-world cost of misinformation is disregarded,” he said, highlighting the role that social media platforms played in the U.S. Capitol riots and the treatment of the Rohingya population in Myanmar. “There is no way to downplay this.”

So he’s joining the Aspen Institute — a massive nonprofit that’s received funding from Facebook, one of the very social media platforms he worries isn’t doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation — to fight that misinformation.

When Harry isn’t fighting misinformation, he’ll be working as the chief impact officer at BetterUp Inc., a San Francisco-based health tech company that offers mental health coaching, the former royal announced Tuesday.

“First of all, I am really excited to be joining the BetterUp team and community! Thanks for having me,” Harry wrote in a Tuesday BetterUp Inc. blog post. “I firmly believe that focusing on and prioritizing our mental fitness unlocks potential and opportunity that we never knew we had inside of us. As the Royal Marine Commandos say, ‘It’s a state of mind.’ We all have it in us.”

This comes just weeks after the Duke and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, moved to California and told Oprah Winfrey about why they stepped down from their senior roles in the British royal family. Part of the reasoning, he and Meghan said, was because of his own experiences with the media and Meghan’s struggle with mental health. 

Disclosure: The writer of this story was a Gwen Ifill Scholar at the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival.

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