After months of abusive comments online, the royals have finally decided to crack down on the vile behaviour their seeing from some internet users. On March 4, the royal family's new social media guidelines were announced. They apply to any account linked to the royals, including Kensington Palace, Clarence House, and, of course, the official accounts of of royal family members.
"The aim of our social media channels is to create an environment where our community can engage safely in debate and is free to make comments, questions, and suggestions," the royal family said in a statement. The guidelines lay out a lengthy list of rules that social media users must follow.
According to the statement, comments must not be offensive, threatening, abusive, harmful, be defamatory of any person, or promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age. Any users that fail to follow the rules may have their comments hidden, deleted, or reported to police if necessary. They may also run the risk of being blocked.
As the BBC reports, it is understood that staff at Kensington Palace have been fighting to control a rise in abusive comments targeted at the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex. Although both women don't have personal social media accounts, they publicise their work via the official Kensington Palace Twitter (1.69 million followers) and Instagram (7.1 million followers).
According to the Mirror, one photo in particular attracted a torrent of hateful comments. In December 2018, Meghan Markle attended the Fashion Awards in London, presenting a trophy to the designer of her wedding dress, Givenchy's Claire Waight Keller. Abuse on a photo of Meghan cradling her bump is said to have been the reason for the introduction of the royal family's social media guidelines, the Mirror reports.
Hello! reported a similar story, stating that the photo of Meghan (which was posted on the magazine's social media accounts) received a deluge of abusive comments. So many, in fact, that moderators had to disable comments and delete more than 500.
In January 2019, Hello! also revealed that Kensington Palace staff were spending hours each week moderating "sexist and racist comments directed at Meghan and Kate." Violent threats are reported to have been made and even a rivalry between fans of the two Duchesses was witnessed.
"It follows a Kate vs Meghan narrative and some of the worst stuff is between Kate fans and Meghan fans," a source told Hello!. "Arguments about who looks more appropriate, for example, that turn into personal attacks on other users. It’s creating a supercharged atmosphere and everyone can join in, but what are the consequences of this?"
The source also added that the palace had long monitored social media comments, but admitted it was "a hugely time-consuming thing. Over the course of [the] last year, with hundreds of thousands of comments, there were two or three that were violent threats. You can delete and report and block people and the police have options around particular people. It’s something you have to manage because there’s no other way to control it."
Let's hope the new guidelines have a positive impact. No one should have to tolerate abuse — and that includes members of the royal family.