Kensington Palace has asked social media firms for help in combating a boom in abuse aimed at the British Duchesses Kate and Meghan.
The royal household – which oversees the offices of Prince William and Kate, and Prince Harry and Meghan – has directly appealed to Instagram and Twitter for assistance in controlling vicious online comments aimed at both women, according to a source. The abuse is often made against one duchess by supporters of the other.
The volume of the comments, some of which are sexist and racist, is so significant that tackling them has been challenging, the source told CNN.
While the vast majority of comments are thoughtful and positive, it only takes a couple of people to turn the tone of the conversation to a very negative place, the source added.
Since its social media accounts were set up, the palace has used both manual and automatic tools for monitoring them, and it deletes and reports anything deemed abusive, racist, sexist or violent. These automated tools have helped bring down the levels of abuse, said the source.
Comments that are simply critical are not censored, while users are also encouraged to report any abusive content.
The source told CNN that the palace had previously contacted Twitter about particularly unpleasant or threatening comments, adding that Instagram had been especially helpful in providing monitoring tools to aid in blocking abusive comments.
A spokesperson for Twitter told CNN that the company did not comment on individual accounts, for “privacy and security reasons,” but added: “Our abusive behavior policy clearly states that we do not tolerate behavior that harasses, threatens, or uses fear to silence the voices of others.”
Instagram does not comment on individual accounts but does have a range of tools in place to counter bullying and offensive comments.
On Monday, a leading UK celebrity magazine launched a campaign calling for people to change their online behavior and think twice before posting abuse.
Hello! launched its #HelloToKindness campaign in a direct response to the rise in offensive language directed at the two women.
In a video message, the magazine’s royal editor, Emily Nash, said: “We’re taking a stand and saying #HellotoKindness. For us it’s not acceptable to pit two women against each other.
“It’s not acceptable to post abusive, threatening, racist or sexist comments online. And it’s not acceptable to attack other users just because they disagree with you.
Nash told CNN: “There’s a wider narrative in the media pitting them against each other, and unfortunately people are piling in and taking sides.”
On Tuesday, more than 24 hours after the launch of the campaign, Nash added: “We have been overwhelmed by the response to #HelloToKindness, (with) messages of support coming from all over the world… sadly there has also been some abusive commentary, which highlights why this is so necessary.”
The rise in abuse directed at the women comes after months of reports in British tabloid newspapers that claim they are locked in a long-running feud.