Dia Dipasupil/Getty Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have spoken out about the dangers of spreading misinformation online and now a new report has uncovered details of a monetized hate campaign against the Duchess of Sussex.
Data analytics service Bot Sentinel released a third and final report on Tuesday regarding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, this time on how "single-purpose hate accounts have turned targeted harassment and coordinated hate campaigns into a lucrative hate-for-profit enterprise."
According to the report, a network of YouTube channels focused on disparaging Meghan has over 497 million views and an estimated $3.48 million in total YouTube earnings combined. Just three of the top content creators — YankeeWally, MurkyMeg and According2taz — have a combined 70+ million views and an estimated $494,730 in total YouTube earnings.
"The trio also coordinated their efforts on Twitter, cultivating a following by disseminating conspiracy theories and disinformation about Harry and Meghan that were concocted in the MeWe group," the report found. "Their efforts allowed them to interact with journalists and royal experts, who then, in some circumstances, amplified the falsehoods. The women leveraged their Twitter popularity to funnel their followers to their YouTube channels, where they would discuss the conspiracy theories they helped to manufacture."
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Twitter has suspended YankeeWally and MurkyMeg. According2taz is still an active account, but "Twitter's reporting system has acknowledged she has violated its rules on multiple occasions, including for abuse and harassment," the report stated.
In the service's first report released in October, Bot Sentinel found that around 70 percent of hateful comments about the couple on Twitter originated from just 83 accounts.
The service found that Twitter had previously suspended many of the accounts, but the users were deploying tactics to avoid suspension, including placing "parody" in their profiles.
"Others would use racist coded language about Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to avoid detection," Bot Sentinel said in the report. "We also observed several accounts either lock or completely deactivate their profiles to preserve their accounts."
Bot Sentinel also found the Twitter algorithm actively suggested they follow some of the hate accounts after viewing just two of them.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Meghan, 40, and Prince Harry , 37, said goodbye to their joint @SussexRoyal Instagram account with a final post on March 30, 2020, one day before they officially stepped back from their roles as senior members of the royal family.
The couple appeared on the Teenager Therapy podcast in October 2020, where Meghan addressed being the "most trolled person in the entire world" the previous year.
"I don't care if you're 15 or you're 25, if people are saying things about you that aren't true, what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging," Meghan said.
In early 2021, the Duke of Sussex spoke with Fast Company about the impact of the digital world, addressing reports about his approach to social media alongside Meghan.
"Ironically, we woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago to hear that a Rupert Murdoch newspaper said we were evidently quitting social media," he said. "That was 'news' to us, bearing in mind we have no social media to quit, nor have we for the past 10 months."
Harry also noted that social media can "offer a means of connecting and community, which are vital to us as human beings."
"We need to hear each other's stories and be able to share our own. That's part of the beauty of life," he said. "And don't get me wrong; I'm not suggesting that a reform of the digital space will create a world that's all rainbows and sunshine, because that's not realistic, and that, too, isn't life."