Twitter Has Uncovered a Campaign of Harassment Against Meghan Markle

This is chilling.

cardiff, wales january 18 meghan markle chats with people inside the drawing room during a visit to cardiff castle on january 18, 2018 in cardiff, wales photo by ben birchall wpa pool getty images
(Image credit: WPA Pool)

It's no secret that Meghan Markle is the object of cruel trolling and criticism online, but a new report by Twitter analytics service Bot Sentinel has revealed a possibly even more chilling truth: that 70% of the hate against Markle on Twitter stems from just 83 accounts with a combined 187,631 followers.

According to BuzzFeed News, a large proportion of tweets from these users contain negative comments about the Duchess of Sussex, indicating that their accounts are set up pretty much for the sole purpose of harassing her. However, they don't seem to be bot accounts.

"This campaign comes from people who know how to manipulate the algorithms, manipulate Twitter, stay under the wire to avoid detection and suspension," Bot Sentinel CEO Christopher Bouzy told BuzzFeed News. "This level of complexity comes from people who know how to do this stuff, who are paid to do this stuff."

For Bouzy, the findings are incomprehensible. "There’s no motive," he said. "Are these people who hate her? Is it racism? Are they trying to hurt [Harry and Meghan’s] credibility? Your guess is as good as ours."

Twitter is "actively investigating the information and accounts referenced in this report—we will take action on accounts that violate the Twitter Rules," a rep for the company said.

Meghan Markle has attracted criticism from the start—which many commentators have attributed to racism (comparisons between media coverage of Markle and Kate Middleton make this reality impossible to deny)—but has attracted even more hate in the wake of hers and Prince Harry's decision to step down from their duties as senior royals and move to California. While social media isn't the couple's only detractor by far, hopefully networks like Twitter cracking down on coordinated hate efforts can help slow the negative cycle and give the Sussexes the peace they've been looking for.

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.