Kensington Palace takes unprecedented steps to protect royals on social media

By Sarah Walker

For the first time ever, Kensington Palace released official rules for how they expect the public to interact with the Royal Family on social media. The March 4 announcement comes after months of trolling of specific members of the family, including the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex.

The statement reads: “We ask that anyone engaging with our social media channels shows courtesy, kindness and respect for all other members of our social media communities.” It went on to state that comments cannot “contain spam, be defamatory of any person, deceive others, be obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive, hateful, inflammatory or promote sexually explicit material or violence.” They should also not “promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.”

Kate and Meghan are often pitted against each other in social media trolling attacks. Photo: © Getty Images

It also noted that comments should not “breach any of the terms of any of the social media platforms themselves, be off-topic, irrelevant or unintelligible or contain any advertising or promote any services.” The palace went on to say that they “reserve the right to hide or delete comments made on our channels, as well as block users who do not follow these guidelines. 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.”

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The unprecedented move comes shortly after a source exclusively told HELLO! that staff had been spending hours each week moderating sexist and hateful comments directed toward the two duchesses. The source revealed: "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."

Even before social media, Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson were the victims of the rumour mill. Photo: © Getty Images

Commentary, the source explained, generally follows a negative tangent and sees Kate fans gang up on Meghan and vice versa. "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?"

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Sarah Ferguson recently called for an end to the negative conversations in another interview with the publication, saying social media was no longer a safe space. “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.”

In the impassioned letter, the 59-year-old also called on 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.”

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