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Meghan Markle condemns ‘toxicity’ of social media in impassioned speech

Meghan Markle has decried the “toxicity” of social media during a keynote panel at the South by South West (SXSW) festival in Texas on International Women’s Day.

The Duchess of Sussex, 42, was speaking alongside broadcaster Katie Couric, The Blue Lagoon actor Brooke Shields and sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen on the panel, which was moderated by journalist Errin Haines.

Deadline reports that Markle used her time to highlight the detrimental effect social media can have on women.

“Even if it’s making dollars, it doesn’t make sense,” said the Suits star.

“The toxicity that comes at you, yes, social media is an environment that has a lot of that,” she continued. “I keep my distance from it.”

Markle added that while pregnant with her children she found herself baffled by how “catty and cruel” people can be.

“But we also created these habits – what I find to be the most distributing is how much of the hate are women spewing that to other women,” she added. “I can’t make sense of that.”

“Reading something terrible about a woman, why are you sharing it with your friends?,” she asked, “That’s the piece that’s so lost right now.”

“We’ve forgotten about our humanity.”

Meghan Markle has been listed as a ‘visionary female leader’ (AFP via Getty Images)
Meghan Markle has been listed as a ‘visionary female leader’ (AFP via Getty Images)

Prior to the event, the panelists had been described as “visionary female leaders at the forefront of news, media, entertainment, and philanthropy who are breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and working toward a healthier society on and off our screens”.

Hugh Forrest, Co-President and Chief Programming Officer for the SXSW event said, “Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, Katie Couric, Brooke Shields, Nancy Wang Yuen, and Errin Haines are the perfect finishing touch to eight days of remarkable Keynote Speakers.

“We are so honoured to host this distinguished group on International Women’s Day for a significant discussion on the importance of representation in media and entertainment.”

Markle, a New York Times bestselling author and co-founder of the Archwell Foundation and Archwell Productions, took part in a similar discussion in October last year.

The former Suits star said that being a mother was “the most important thing” to her, during a panel for the first Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit, titled “Mental Wellness in a Digital Age” for World Mental Health Day.

She shares two children with her husband Prince Harry, Archie who is 4 and Lilibet who is 2.

“Being a mom is the most important thing in my entire life – outside, of course, being a wife to this one,” Markle replied as she gestured to Harry.

“But I will say I feel fortunate that our children are at an age, again quite young, so this isn’t in our immediate future, but I also feel frightened at how it’s continuing to change, and this will be in front of us.”

The couple revealed they had been working with tech companies and parents who had lost children to online bullying and harassment.

The couple took part in a similar discussion in October last year (AP)
The couple took part in a similar discussion in October last year (AP)

“I think for us, for myself and my wife, with kids growing up in a digital age, the priority here is to again turn pain into purpose and provide as much support as well as a spotlight and a platform for these parents to come together, to heal, to grieve and to also collectively focus on solutions so that no other family anywhere has to go through what they’ve been through,” Harry shared.