The racist online abuse of Meghan has put royal staff on high alert

Updated 3:40 AM EST, Fri March 8, 2019
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London CNN —  

Britain’s royal family is beefing up its social media operation amid a rise in racist online abuse targeting the Duchess of Sussex in the months after the announcement of her pregnancy, sources have told CNN.

Kensington Palace staff are devoting more resources to deleting comments targeting Meghan, and blocking abusive Twitter and Instagram accounts. Software is being used to filter out the use of the n-word as well as emojis of guns and knives.

As part of the effort, the royal family issued a set of guidelines last week for people engaging with its social media channels.

Separately, the advocacy group Hope Not Hate analyzed a sample of more than 5,000 tweets containing the most commonly used anti-Meghan hashtags. The analysis of the tweets, posted between January and the middle of February, shows that a tight-knit group of accounts is behind much of the trolling.

Twenty accounts were responsible for about 70% of the tweets, sharing anti-Meghan hashtags, pictures and memes. The fact that such a small number of users generated such a large number of the tweets suggests that the accounts were created for the purpose of producing negative content about the duchess, Hope Not Hate said.

The Twitter bios associated with the users typically contained Meghan-related hashtags like #Megxit and #Charlatanduchess, as well as political hashtags like #Brexit and #MAGA (Make America Great Again), sometimes in combination.

Some of the accounts also shared links to far-right websites and social media pundits. Many posts used racial epithets to describe Meghan. However, there is no evidence that the accounts analyzed by Hope Not Hate are part of a far-right campaign against the Duchess.

CNN contacted Twitter and Instagram for comment. Twitter has since suspended a few of the accounts analyzed.

The small group of accounts that troll the duchess often retweet news articles that portray Meghan negatively.

Since Meghan and Prince Harry’s relationship was first revealed by the media in 2016, there have been references in articles to Meghan’s “rich and exotic DNA,” reports that her “family went from cotton slaves to royalty” and claims that the Los Angeles native was “(almost) straight outta Compton,” in a reference to the NWA song.