Twitter Data Shows Coordinated Attack Behind Meghan Markle Tweets

Twitter Data Shows Coordinated Attack Behind Hateful Meghan Markle Tweets

Commonwealth Day Service, Westminster Abbey, London, UK – 09 Mar 2020
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

New analytics study shows that hateful tweets about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry come from a concentrated network of accounts

An analysis of tweets centered around Meghan Markle and Prince Harry has shown that 83 Twitter accounts are responsible for nearly 70 percent of the negative and hateful content about the couple online, suggesting that there is a coordinated attack online to break the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

After an analysis of more than 114,000 tweets, Twitter analytics service Bot Sentinel found that those 83 Twitter accounts are exclusively focused on writing and posting hateful messages about the couple, specifically Meghan Markle.

The analytics service also claims that there appears to be some level of coordination between the anti-Meghan accounts.

Anti-Meghan and Harry rhetoric online isn’t disseminated by random disgruntled trolls, it’s a deliberate, coordinated, and calculated attack by a cohesive source. The bigger question is, coordinated by whom?

“Our research found that a relatively small number of single-purpose anti-Meghan and Harry accounts created and disseminated most of the hateful content on Twitter. However, the primary accounts had assistance that allowed their content to be repackaged and shared by accounts with a considerable following. We observed the primary accounts coordinating their activities and using various techniques to avoid detection. In short, the majority of the anti-Meghan and Harry activity wasn’t organic,” the researchers stated.

“Our research revealed these accounts were brazenly coordinating on the platform, and at least one account was openly recruiting people to join their hate initiative on Twitter,” added the researchers.

The analytics firm released images of some of the tweets and they are full of hate, sometimes use doctored images of Meghan, and often traffic in extremely racist caricatures. BuzzFeed News found additional tweets, ones not even mentioned in the study, including “one calling for Meghan’s death, as well as posts claiming that she faked her pregnancy and that her children were either born via surrogate or are not real.”

Unfortunately, many of the tweets fly under Twitter’s radar and thereby do not get flagged by Twitter’s terms of service.

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

Some of these anti-Meghan accounts have publically started to boycott Buzzfeed for being the first to report on the study.

A Twitter spokesperson tweeted on Tuesday that “there’s no evidence of widespread coordination, the use of multiple accounts by single people,” though Bouzy is challenging that take.

It’s unclear what the trolls’ end-game is with all these tweets, or as Bouzy puts it, “There’s no motive. 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.”