If you’re worried about the fact that disinformation seems to have diseased most Americans’ minds, don’t worry. A millionaire member of the British royal family with close to zero experience in the real world has got you covered.
Prince Harry (also known as the Duke of Sussex and other assorted titles), has been recruited by a disinfo-focused research unit developed by the Aspen Institute — that glistening global non-profit powered by the world’s most monied.
The Prince is practically all the U.S. can talk about since he and Meghan Markle very publicly jilted their royal duties to be freewheeling American celebrities. Since then, as if in an effort to prove his American grit and allay the image of a royal layabout, he has been on a job-getting spree — the likes of which see him positioning himself as a Silicon Valley tech dude.
One of those new jobs is with The Commission on Information Disorder, which will conduct a six-month investigation to “wrestle with the impact and problem of mis- and disinformation” in modern American society. It is the product of the Aspen Cybersecurity Group, a cross-sector cyber forum, and funded by part of a $US3.25 ($4) million contribution from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the eponymous charity created by the billionaire founder of Craigslist.
So reports CNN, the Prince will do some serious thinking about what has Americans so confused about the facts: “Harry, 14 other commissioners and three co-chairs will conduct a six-month study on the state of American misinformation and disinformation.” Harry’s own “personal experiences with the media — particularly with lies and nonsense spread about his own life — are likely to inform his contributions to the commission,” the news outlet reports.
Look, I certainly have sympathy for the fact that a guy like Harry would want to escape “the Firm” (as he’s referred to the royal family) and make a name for himself, but this sounds like a job he is not really qualified for. Sure, the man has doubtlessly had to deal with a lot of paparazzi throughout his charmed life, but so has, like, Nicolas Cage. Does that really make either of them qualified to dismantle systemic conspiracy theory rot or explain to Americans what is real and what is foreign-seeded propaganda?
The Commission does have a handful of well-qualified academics, researchers and government professionals onboard (among them Stanford University’s Herb Lin, former CISA director Chris Krebs, and University of Washington disinformation researcher Kate Starbird, among several others). A variety of other people from varying fields (tech, media, and other corporate thought-leader types) are also involved.
Clearly the world at large has an information pollution problem: disinformation is being produced by anybody and everybody, these days — with intelligence agencies, celebrities, corporations, and even just your average malcontent all capable of wreaking havoc on the minds of millions with the click of a button (well, many clicks, more accurately).
Yet the Aspen Institute’s decision to recruit a member of the royal family for its billionaire-funded Commission just sort of underlines everything wrong with the current approach to this problem: i.e., elitist technocracy at its most ridiculous. It seems sort of ironic that, in the name of shedding light on the ills of media bullshit, the Commission is touting association with a man whose whole life has doubtlessly been held aloft by the likes of an industrial PR machine.
We have reached out to the Aspen Institute for comment on Harry’s qualifications and are waiting with bated breath to hear what they are.