Prince Harry blasts 'Megxit' term as 'misogynistic': 'It began with a troll'

Prince Harry is speaking out against misinformation in the media — the same day his wife, Meghan Markle, said tabloids should come with a "warning label like cigarettes."

On Tuesday, Harry took part in Wired magazine's RE:WIRED virtual summit in New York City, joining the "Internet Lie Machine" panel discussion alongside Renée DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory and Rashad Robinson of Color of Change.

"Misinformation is a global humanitarian crisis," said Harry, who also addressed the term "Megxit," which went viral after Meghan and Harry announced their decision to step back as senior working royals in January 2020.

"The term 'Megxit' was or is a misogynistic term that was created by a troll, amplified by world correspondents, and it grew and grew and grew onto mainstream media. But it began with a troll," he said.

In his remarks, Harry briefly spoke about his history with the media and misinformation. "I felt it personally over the years, and I'm now watching it happen globally affecting everyone, not just America, literally everyone around the world," he said. "I learned from a very early age that the incentives of publishing are not necessarily aligned with the incentives of the truth."

The father of two noted, "I know the story all too well. I lost my mother to this self-manufactured rabidness, and obviously I'm determined not to lose the mother to my children to the same thing." 

He alluded to his series The Me You Can't See, which addressed mental health, as well as previous statements he has made excoriating the media for their treatment of Meghan. 

On Tuesday, he told the WIRED panel, "The scale of misinformation now is terrifying. No one's safe from it, no one is protected from it. You can't hide from it and we continue to see lives ruined families destroyed in one single household."

Rosa Woods – Pool/Getty Images Prince Harry and Meghan Markle         

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Recently, Harry and his wife Meghan Markle have been appearing at events and calling out misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine in their fight for global access to vaccine doses. 

In March, it was announced that Harry teamed up with the nonprofit Aspen Institute for a six-month study exploring of misinformation in the U.S. and to reach his goal of "working on a solution-oriented approach to the information disorder crisis." (Robinson was named as one of the co-chairs of the study.) 

Later in the panel discussion, Harry cited an independent report that found "more than 70 percent of the hate speech about my wife on Twitter can be traced to fewer than 50 accounts." He implicated tabloid journalists in "amplifying the hate and the lies," saying they "regurgitate these lies as truth." 

And he underlined the synergy between legacy media and social media in commodifying viral content to toxic ends — name-checking Succession's fictional media tycoon, Logan Roy, and real-life media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

"This isn't just a social media problem. It's a media problem," he said. "I've grown up learning that news should be sacred ground. You don't have to be Logan Roy or Rupert Murdoch to understand that clickbait is the descendant of targeted advertising."

But he also struck a hopeful note, affirming, "Real journalists have the power and the will to tackle racism, misogyny, lies, all of it from within their own systems."

Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock Meghan Markle and Prince Harry         

Since stepping back from their roles in the royal family, Harry and Meghan have cofounded the Archewell Foundation and spoken out in support of representation, sensitivity and inclusion in the media as well as expressing condemnation for the tabloid press for "ruthless" treatment against them.

"People now more than ever want and need truth," said Harry on Tuesday. "They want and need trust, and they want and need transparency. We're here to support them in any way possible."

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Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, have been in an ongoing battle with the tabloid press over the nature and tone of their coverage.

In March, during their joint interview with Oprah Winfrey, the couple spoke about the personal attacks on them by the tabloid media. 

Meghan, who was pregnant with their daughter Lilibet Diana during the interview taping, said she wasn't allowed to deny or dispute the stories. "Everyone in my world was given very clear directive, from the moment the world knew Harry and I were dating, to always say, 'No comment,'" she said at the time. "That's my friends, my mom and dad."

And Harry described the U.K. tabloids as "bigoted," claiming they had been responsible for "inciting so much racism" against Meghan during her time in his home country.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images Meghan Markle and Prince Harry         

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Prior to the Oprah interview, Harry released an unprecedented statement in October 2019, accusing the U.K. tabloids of producing "lie after lie" about Meghan in a "ruthless" attempt to vilify her, later implying that this had led him to compare Meghan's situation to that of his late mother, Princess Diana.

"My deepest fear is history repeating itself," Harry stated at the time. "I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Harry spoke out about social media's role in the riots. On Tuesday, he recalled speaking with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey the day before the attacks.

"Jack and I were emailing each other prior to Jan. 6. I warned him that his platform was allowing a coup to be staged. That email was sent the day before and then it happened and I haven't heard from him since," Harry said.

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