A glitch within Instagram caused Kensington Palace and other social media influencers to lose thousands of followers overnight. The palace lost almost 150,000, while celebrities like Ariana Grande and Kylie Jenner lost millions.
It was initially believed that Instagram had gone on one of its famous purges to clear the site of fake accounts and bots, but in a statement released on Twitter, the photo-sharing tool said the drop had been caused by an unrelated issue. "We’re aware of an issue that is causing a change in account follower numbers for some people right now. We’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible," they tweeted.
We’re aware of an issue that is causing a change in account follower numbers for some people right now. We’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible.— Instagram (@instagram) February 13, 2019
The Kensington Palace social media pages are responsible for sharing the latest updates on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. In January it was reported that palace staff spend hours each week moderating sexist and racist comments directed at Duchess Kate and Duchess Meghan.
A source told HELLO!: "The Palace has always monitored comments but it’s a hugely time consuming thing. They can block certain words, but some of it is quite serious. Over the course of 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."
They continued: "It follows a Kate vs Meghan narrative and some of the worst stuff is between Kate fans and Meghan fans... 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?"
View this post on Instagram
People feel licensed to say things online that they would never dream of saying to someone’s face and that encourages others to join in. It’s so ubiquitous that we have all become numb to what is going on. It is time to take a stand. I have written for @hellomag this week backing @emilynashhello #HelloToKindness campaign
It's because of that online vitriol that Sarah Ferguson recently penned an open letter for HELLO! calling for people to be nicer to one another. The online space, Sarah pointed out, has become an unsafe space for many. “People feel licensed to say things online that they would never dream of saying to someone's face, and that encourages others to pile in,” she wrote passionately. “It's so ubiquitous that we've all become numb to what's going on. There is good evidence that this online culture is having a detrimental impact on people's mental health, particularly vulnerable young people.”
She added: “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.”
The 59-year-old’s poignant and impassioned letter was also a call to action for tech companies to do their part to end the spread of hate online. “Social media companies and news websites need to do much more to take a stand against online abuse, rather than shrugging their shoulders and saying there's nothing they can do about it,” she wrote. “And we all, as individuals, need to take a step back and try to make sure that what we say online is responsible and fair.”