March 8, 2019 12:54 pm

As racist abuse towards Meghan Markle grows, Royals amp up social-media monitoring

Meghan Markle at a panel discussion convened by the Queen's Commonwealth Trust to mark International Women's Day on March 8, 2019 in London, England.

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The online abuse aimed at Meghan Markle is so severe that palace officials are reportedly upping their social-media monitoring to combat the harassment.

Kensington Palace staff are “devoting more resources to deleting comments” targeting Markle, CNN reports, and actively blocking Twitter and Instagram accounts that post hateful content. A palace insider told the news outlet that software is being used to filter out the use of the n-word, as well as offensive gun and knife emojis.

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Last week, the Royal Family released a set of social media guidelines in response to the mounting racist comments and online threats Markle and other members of the family receive.

The Royals have reason for concern. According to a recent study by U.K. advocacy group Hope Not Hate, just 20 social media accounts were responsible for 70 per cent of the abusive tweets directed towards the pregnant Duchess of Sussex.

Based on a sample of more than 5,000 tweets posted between January and mid-February containing anti-Markle hashtags, Hope Not Hate found that a “tight-knit” group of social media accounts are responsible for most of the harassment. These accounts commonly posted offensive pictures, memes and hashtags.

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The organization — which completed the data analysis for CNN — told the outlet that because such a small number of users generated such a large amount of abusive content, there’s reason to believe that the sole purpose of these accounts is to troll Markle. The bios of the anti-Markle Twitter accounts often contained hashtags including #Megxit as well as political ones like #Brexit and #MAGA.

“Meghan Markle has suffered appalling levels of abuse, some of it racist in nature,” Patrik Hermansson, the researcher responsible for the Markle data, told Global News.

“Our data analysis … was able to show how just a small number of accounts were behind the vast majority of anti-Meghan trolling on Twitter.”

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In recent months, Kensington Palace and members of the U.K. press have made efforts to stop the online harassment.

In January, British newspaper The Times published an editorial called “Vile Abuse” stating that the “vicious” comments made about Markle and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton need to end.

On top of racist remarks made towards Markle, there’s been an uptick in online bullying directed at the royal sisters-in-law tied to tabloid reports that Markle and Middleton are feuding.

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Hello! royal correspondent Emily Nash told CNN in January that “there’s a wider narrative in the media pitting them against each other, and unfortunately people are piling in and taking side.”

The guidelines created by the Palace state that people engaging on Royal Family social media accounts must do so respectfully, and not post hateful, defamatory, offensive or obscene content.

The Palace also states that no discrimination based on race, sex or religion will be tolerated.

Laura.Hensley@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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