A "hate network" of just 83 accounts is responsible for 70% of the harassment aimed at the couple, reveals a new report from Twitter analytics service Bot Sentinel

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The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit One World Observatory Meghan Markle prince harry
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Taylor Hill/WireImage

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were the targets of a hate-fueled, coordinated Twitter campaign rife with "racist coded language," according to a new analytics report.

On Tuesday, Twitter analytics service Bot Sentinel released a report analyzing 114,000 tweets related to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They found that around 70 percent of hateful comments about the couple originated from just 83 accounts.

"Using internal and 3rd party analytic tools, we estimate a combined unique potential reach of 17,000,000 users," the report stated. "We used friend/follower connections, retweets, and mentions to identify accounts that were part of the same hate network. 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."

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex speak onstage during Global Citizen Live, New York on September 25, 2021 in New York City.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
| Credit: John Lamparski/Getty

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.

A Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that they are "actively investigating the information and accounts referenced in this report — we will take action on accounts that violate the Twitter Rules."

According to BuzzFeed, Twitter has already suspended four of the accounts named in the report, while six more set their profiles to private.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit One World Observatory
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Taylor Hill/WireImage

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."

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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."