Britain’s royal family has warned social media users that it will report internet trolls to police following a rise in online abuse against Catherine and Meghan, which has prompted concern in recent months.
In a surprise move, the palace released official guidelines for how to interact with the royal family’s official social media accounts on Monday, banning any “obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive [and] hateful” posts.
“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 guidelines said.
“We ask that anyone engaging with our social media channels shows courtesy, kindness and respect for all other members of our social media communities.”
The guidelines insist posts shouldn’t “contain spam, be defamatory of any person, deceive others” or “promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age”. Users who post offensive content on the social media pages will be blocked or reported to police, the royal family warned.
“We reserve the right to determine, at our discretion, whether contributions to our social media channels breach our guidelines. We reserve the right to hide or delete comments made on our channels, as well as block users who do not follow these guidelines,” the statement added.
“We also reserve the right to send any comments we deem appropriate to law enforcement authorities for investigation as we feel necessary or is required by law.”
The royal family have several Instagram and Twitter accounts, covering all members of the royal family across Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace. The main royal Instagram account alone has 4.5 million followers, while Kensington Palace, which covers all of Meghan, Prince Harry, Catherine and Prince William’s activities, has 7.1 million followers.
It comes amid ongoing and unconfirmed claims of a feud between the Duchess of Sussex and the Duchess of Cambridge, which have sparked a lot of nasty comments between both of their fanbases.
In January, Hello! magazine launched a new worldwide campaign, named #HelloToKindness, aiming to change the way people post online and focus more on positive comments in the wake of the royal drama.
According to the magazine, Kensington Palace staff are being forced to spend hours moderating offensive comments aimed at the duchesses, many of which are described as “sexist and racist” while some even contain threats towards the royals or other ‘rival’ fans.
Meanwhile, last month Sarah Ferguson slammed cruel online trolls in a heartfelt open letter written for the magazine, comparing comments pitting women against each other to the nasty rumours about her and Diana years ago.
Writing for Hello!, as part of their new campaign, the Duchess of York hit out at the “extraordinarily abusive comments” on websites and social media – claiming the “bullying, sniping, bitching, appalling sexism, racism and homophobia” is getting out of hand. She urged social media platforms and news websites to stand up to trolls and work to stop the abuse circulating once and for all.
“Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt,” she wrote.
“I believe that it’s time to take a stand. This isn’t about freedom of speech. The truth is, it’s not acceptable to post abuse or threats on social media or news sites, and it’s not acceptable to harangue other users simply because they disagree with you,” she added.