Brand and business innovator Cindy Gallop has written an op-ed to the Duke of Sussex, explaining why the digital landscape remains unwell, pointing to a lack of diversity.
Responding to an op-ed by Prince Harry on the need to redesign social media around “compassion, trust, and well-being”, Cindy Gallop said that, while “absolutely right” to say social media is dividing society, he had missed the mark on who should redesign it, and how.
The Duke of Sussex was appealing for society to take a “critical eye to the last two decades, where advancements in technology and media have outgrown many of the antiquated guardrails that once ensured they were being designed and used appropriately”.
He was also calling for companies around the world with business and advertising models directly tied to digital platforms to consider how they can bring about reform to ensure the “betterment of all”.
Gallop, who recently called on LinkedIn to step-up on the issue of sexual harassment of women on the platform, said there was one fundamental reason the digital landscape is, as Prince Harry puts it, “unwell”.
“The young white male founders of the giant tech platforms that dominate our lives today are not the primary targets (online or offline) of harassment, abuse, racism, sexual assault, violence, rape, revenge porn,” she wrote in Fast Company.
“So they didn’t, and they don’t, proactively design for the prevention of any of those things. That is why we now have, in your words, ‘online platforms that have contributed to, stoked, and created the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth.’
“Those of us who are at risk every single day—women, Black people, people of colour, LGBTQ, the disabled—design safe spaces, and safe experiences.
“When we get access to the same levels of funding and support that white men do, we deliver what you’re looking for. Little nudges and prompts at just the right point can have a disproportionately beneficial approach. We design to stop harassment and abuse before it ever happens.”
Gallop goes on to write in the US monthly business magazine that, despite the benefits, “we don’t often get funded to start them, build them, grow them, scale them”.
According to PitchBook Data, which delivers data and research on the private capital markets and venture capital, only 2.8 per cent of all venture funding goes to female-founded businesses.
Only 0.2 per cent goes to businesses founded by Black women, Gallop says, which stands in sharp contrast to some of the largest and most well-funded social platforms on the internet, like LinkedIn.
Recently, Gallop brought attention to the longstanding issue of the sexual harassment of women on the platform—in a post garnering more than 1,100 reactions—delivering three “design nudges” that could arrest this behaviour before it emerges.
However, in a post published last week on the technology behind fighting harassment on its platform, LinkedIn revealed it had not incorporated Gallop’s design tweaks.
“LinkedIn hasn’t implemented my design nudges, but I made sure my own startup does. Every comment box on [MakeLoveNotPorn] carries the line, ‘Please, keep it positive.’ (We’ve not yet had to censor a single comment.),” she writes for Fast Company.
“Imagine this operating on the same scale as Facebook. Imagine the world transformed by love.
“We’re ready, Prince Harry. We’re ready, as you say, ‘to remodel the architecture of our online community in a way defined more by compassion than hate; by truth instead of misinformation; by equity and inclusiveness instead of injustice and fearmongering; by free, rather than weaponised, speech.’
“We’ve been ready for years because that’s how long many of us have been building platforms that ‘place community and connection, tolerance and empathy, and joy and kindness above all,’ and yet we can’t get funded.
“When the leaders and institutions you’re calling on fund, support, and champion us—founders who are female, BIPOC, LGBTQ, disabled, and those from other underrepresented groups—you’ll see how very different the world your children grow up in will be.”
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