Meghan Markle has insisted that all social media users are like ‘people who are addicted to drugs’ during her latest virtual summit appearance – despite spending many years as a prolific Instagram user.
The 39-year-old drew the bold, and somewhat hypocritical, comparison during the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Virtual Summit on Tuesday afternoon – an online event that was reserved for invited guests willing to pay a $1,750 fee.
‘There are very few things in this world where you call the person who’s engaging with it “a user”. People who are addicted to drugs are called users and people who are on social media are called users,’ Meghan said.
Warning: Meghan Markle made a bold comparison between social media users and drug addicts during her latest virtual summit appearance on Tuesday
Vocal: Speaking from the $14 million California home she shares with Prince Harry and their son Archie, the 39-year-old said social media has the same capacity for addiction as drugs
‘There is something algorithmically that is in there that is creating this obsession that I think is very unhealthy for a lot of people.
‘I have a lot of concerns for people that have become obsessed with it and it is so much a part of our daily culture for so many people that it is an addiction.’
Meghan added that she believes social media had the ‘same capacity’ for causing addiction as drugs do.
Interestingly, the Duchess of Sussex seemed to set herself apart from this group, telling Fortune associate editor Emma Hinchliffe that she has ‘not been on social media for a very long time’ – despite sharing an official Sussex Royal account with Prince Harry for several years before they stepped down as senior royals.
Prior to meeting her now-husband Harry, 36, Meghan also spent many years managing her own personal social media accounts, which she often used to promote her work as an actress, as well as her now-defunct lifestyle blog The Tig.
She shared many personal aspects of her life – including food photos and vacation snaps – and even alluded to her relationship with Prince Harry in its earliest days by sharing a photo of love hearts soon after the couple met for the first time.
When she took the decision to close down her social media accounts in 2018, after announcing her engagement to Prince Harry – Meghan had amassed 1.9 million followers on Instagram, and she also had an official Facebook and Twitter page that were both closed at the same time.
Meghan and Harry then began sharing near-daily posts on their official Sussex Royal Instagram account, which they set up to have their own social media presence away from Prince William and Kate’s Kensington Royal profile.
However, the mother-of-one told the summit that ‘for her own self preservation’ she ‘has not been on social media for a very long time’, insisting that she did not manage the Sussex Royal account, which was handled instead by a special team.
The former Suits star also seemed to deal a thinly-veiled blow to the royals, referring only to her husband’s family only as ‘the institution’ while discussing the couple’s official Instagram account, which was shut down shortly after they quit their roles and moved to the US.
Hypocritical? Interestingly, Meghan spent many years as an avid Instagram user, regularly posting personal photos on her account – which had 1.9 million followers when it was closed
Personal: The Duchess of Sussex insisted that ‘for her self preservation’ she no longer uses social media, having shut down her personal accounts in 2018 after her engagement
Criticism? While discussing the official Sussex Royal account she shared with Prince Harry, Meghan referred to the Royal Family only as ‘the institution’
‘We had [an Instagram account] through the institution and our office that was in the UK. But that wasn’t managed by us that was a whole team,’ Meghan said, adding that she has ‘made a personal choice to not have any account’.
‘I have made a personal choice to not have any account, so I don’t know what’s out there and in many ways that’s helpful for me,’ Meghan said of her decision not to engage with social media.
Meghan then went on to decry the ‘lasting effects’ of social media, telling the summit’s young participants: ‘I don’t even think people have started to scratch the surface of what [social media] is doing to us.’
Her warnings come just days after the mother-of-one claimed that she was the ‘most trolled person in the entire world in 2019’ while recording a podcast in honor of World Mental Health Day.
‘Now eight months of that I wasn’t even visible,’ Meghan said during the interview, which was released on Sunday. ‘I was on maternity leave or with a baby. But what was able to just be manufactured and churned out. It’s almost unsurvivable.’
But while Meghan discussed her experiences as being ‘almost unsurvivable’, she has not shied away from embracing a much more public-facing role since leaving the royal family.
Indeed, while the mother-of-one has not had a presence on social media for several months now, she has been happy to use other digital platforms to promote her ideas and beliefs, with the former actress taking part in dozens of virtual summits and appearances over the last six months.
This online event is the latest in a long line of summit appearances made by Meghan over the past six months – including a keynote speaker role at the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit just two weeks ago.
In October alone, Meghan has made six digital appearances, from serving as a speaker at this latest virtual summit to her first podcast over the weekend to a pre-recorded conversation with Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Since stepping down from their roles as senior royals, both Meghan and Prince Harry have become increasingly outspoken about a range of hot-button issues, including Black Lives Matter and voter suppression.
Platform: While Meghan has not had a social media presence in several months, she has not shied away from using other digital media to promote her ideology and beliefs
Making the rounds: During lockdown, Meghan has made dozens of appearances at digital summits, and has also filmed multiple video interviews
Spreading their wings? Both Meghan and Harry have become increasingly outspoken on hot-button topics like racial injustice and Black Lives Matter since leaving the Royal Family
However not all of the couple’s online talks have been without controversy.
At the end of September, the couple sparked furious backlash when they spoke out about the upcoming US election in a video for Time 100 that saw harry urge people to ‘reject hate speech’, while Meghan referred to the presidential race as ‘the most important election of our lifetime’.
Although the couple did not voice their support for one candidate in particular, their words made waves on both sides of the Atlantic and were seen as anti-Donald Trump, including by the President himself.
Their decision to make any statement about the presidential election is also in direct opposition to the royal family’s policy of maintaining political neutrality.
Last week, DailyMail.com exclusively revealed that Missouri Congressman Jason Smith was sending a letter to the British Ambassador to the United States asking that the Queen strip Harry and Meghan of their royal titles in response to their decision to ‘interfere’ in the election.
The congressman insisted in his letter that the Sussexes are using their royal titles to influence voters, and pointed out that the United States has expressed concerns about foreign interference in its elections.
‘As you know, the British Royal Family has long observed a policy of strict neutrality in regard to political matters. I am therefore concerned by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s recent comments regarding the United States Presidential Election, especially given international conversations surrounding foreign interference in our elections and the Duke’s status as a guest of the United States,’ he wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by DailyMail.com.
Smith called the couple’s actions ‘a serious breach of the British Royal Family’s policy of political neutrality and an inappropriate act of domestic interference by one of our closest allies.’
The Queen controls Harry and Meghan’s titles but acts on the advice of the government – meaning it would be up to her to act against the couple, but that if the prime minister, Boris Johnson, were to ask her to do it, she would have to at least consider the request.
Priority: During her latest summit appearance, Meghan said that she feels an obligation to ‘make [the world] a better place’ for her one-year-old son Archie