Dec 31, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: Duke and Duchess of Sussex back new tech research

Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images, Archewell Foundation

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced partnerships on Thursday between their foundation and several tech and research-focused groups, including the Center for Humane Technology, the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry and Stanford University's Dr. James Doty, whose work focuses on the science of compassion.

Why it matters: The couple has made community wellbeing and mental health, which includes issues like tech addiction, online bullying, and hate speech on social media, a key focus of their philanthropic efforts.

  • Over the summer, sources told Axios that Prince Harry and Megan Markle began privately advocating for the #stophateforprofit social media boycott campaign, which largely targeted firms like Facebook and Twitter.
  • The couple said in January that they wished to step back from their day-to-day duties as royals to carve out "a progressive new role" within the British monarchy.

Details: The updates were posted to the website of the Archewell Foundation, an impact non-profit that the couple debuted in April following their final royal engagement in March.

  • The update revealed that the foundation has actively partnered throughout this year with former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, who co-founded the Center for Humane Technology, to back research on ways to create the conditions for safer, more compassionate online communities.

The core purpose of the foundation is to uplift and unite communities — online and offline — largely via storytelling, as well as through other partnerships that elevate research on issues the couple is passionate about.

  • The Duke and Duchess this year announced two exclusive streaming deals with Netflix and Spotify through their production arms Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio, respectively.
  • The new ventures both feature stories about ways communities can come together and be inspired.

The Duke and Duchess are also calling on people from around the world to share their own acts of compassion as part of the site update. In November, Markle shared publicly for the first time that she experienced a miscarriage via a New York Times op-ed.

  • "The website has been updated to reflect the work Archewell has undertaken throughout 2020 and to create a place for people and communities around the world to share their stories,” an Archewell spokesperson tells Axios.
  • The site also includes a new logo for the non-profit, shown above.

The big picture: The couple has long been outspoken about issues like hate speech and online bullying, including by sharing their own experiences.

  • In October, the Duchess described her experience with online bullying as "almost unsurvivable." Prince Harry teamed up with Oprah Winfrey to make a documentary about mental health for Apple TV+.
  • Much of the couple's work also focuses on empowering diverse voices and shedding light on issues like systemic racism.
  • For example, the pair is partnering with the Loveland Foundation, an organization that focuses on providing affordable and accessible mental health resources to Black women and girls, according to the site update.

Be smart: The Duke and Duchess' efforts to address issues around community and online hate have drawn them closer to the global debate over how massive internet platforms, particularly social media firms, should be regulated.

  • “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are deeply committed to using their light to illuminate the problems of inequality and structural racism," UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry Co-Director Dr. Safiya U. Noble said in a statement.
  • "We have a shared commitment and sense of urgency in making a more compassionate world, much of which is undermined by internet platforms."

Go deeper: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle back Facebook boycott

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