Kensington Palace has released a set of community guidelines to try and stem the tide of online abuse directed at the Duchess of Sussex. But it doesn’t appear to be working.
From the moment it became public knowledge that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were dating, the abusive comments about Meghan began.
First, it was confined to the tabloid media, but pretty soon afterwards the floodgates of social media opened and the trolling took on new, mutated forms. It was on the social media accounts of Kensington Palace and in the murky, swampy annals of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, that the abuse of Meghan really came into its own.
Here, in the wild wild west of the modern internet, trolls could say whatever they wanted about Meghan. And they did, targeting the Duchess of Sussex with a torrent of vile, misogynistic, racist abuse that no other member of the royal family has ever been subjected to.
It’s taken them almost three years, but Kensington Palace has finally released a set of social media guidelines dictating how this abuse is going to be managed and dealt with.
The Palace promised that they would be blocking and deleting comments that contained “defamatory… obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive, hateful, inflammatory” material, as well as any remarks that “promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.”
This is a welcome thing, and something that Kensington Palace should have done a long time ago. But it’s also not working.
In the day since the new social media guidelines were released, Meghan has been subject to another wave of abuse from online trolls who blame her for infringements on their freedom of speech.
“This was never a problem before,” one tweet read. “How come now with the arrival of THE SHOWGIRL?”
And it kept on coming: “How come you didn’t need these guidelines before Meghan sneaked her way into your family?”
“Get off social media if you can’t hand the truth. Meghan is a cancer and will crumble the royal family,” one tweet read. “Are these guidelines to protect your cheap duchess,” another asked. “Guess what? It’s not working.”
If you’re exhausted just thinking about this, spare a thought for those who moderate Kensington Palace’s social media accounts. According to Hello, the team there spends hours and hours every single day deleting, blocking and reporting incidences of offensive abuse. The social media guidelines was supposed to help them, but it appears to have had the opposite effect.
Meghan is more of a target than ever before, because now she’s being blamed for taking away the right to send racist tweets into the screaming void of social media. Now she’s being blamed for censorship.
At this point, there’s nothing that people won’t pin on the Duchess of Sussex. She’s been blamed for her staff members quitting their jobs. She’s been blamed for Prince Harry’s receding hairline. She’s been blamed for the collapse of ecosystems and the rise of cartel warfare in Mexico because she loves avocado on toast. Why not blame her for the erosion of the right to free speech, too?
We can’t blame Kensington Palace for trying to stem the tide of abuse against Meghan. They’re doing their best.
But if the actual royal family issuing an edict about social media guidelines doesn’t stop the trolls from spurting forth their bilious comments, then what will?