Skip To Content

    There’s A Super Organized Campaign Of Hate Against Meghan Markle On Twitter — And No One Can Figure Out Exactly Why

    “One of the most bizarre things about this story is that this campaign doesn't seem to have a motive — there's no goal they're trying to achieve, other than being incredibly mean and harmful.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed the strange Twitter campaign targeting Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen to BuzzFeed Daily on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Buzzfeed News’ Ellie Hall about the orchestrated Twitter campaign being waged against Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: You recently wrote a piece for BuzzFeed News about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, specifically about all of the hate and negative comments they've been receiving on Twitter as of late. Can you tell us about what you found out?

    Pacific Press / Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

    Ellie Hall: So this isn't something new. This has been happening forever. It really got worse when Meghan was pregnant with her first child, in terms of Twitter harassment. But what you have here are accounts whose only purpose, it seems, is to tweet negative things about Meghan and Harry. And this is everything from like, "Oh, Meghan, I don't like the outfit she's wearing today," or "Why is Meghan involving herself in US politics?" (This past week, she wrote a letter urging paid family leave for all and publicly published this letter.) So stuff like that. 

    And then you have the absolutely insane conspiracy theories, such as "Meghan was never pregnant. She used something called a moon bump to fake her pregnancies" and "Archie and Lili, their two children — they were either born via surrogate, or they're dolls."

    BuzzFeed Daily: OK, so you're talking about these accounts that are just meant to harass Meghan. Do we have any idea if these accounts are real people or if they're bots?

    Max Mumby / Getty Images

    EH: I worked with Bot Sentinel, which is very well-known in extremism reporting and misinformation circles. They use Twitter's API data to analyze tweets from accounts, and that's one of the things they do to try to figure that out if these accounts are automated or real people. And again, doing this kind of thing is not an exact science, but I personally went over all of the data before this report that we did was published and verified it. 

    But to answer your question about the Meghan and Harry trolls, they're real people. These are not automated bot accounts. The report that Bot Sentinel released said that there are 83 accounts in total and 55 of them are the ones that promote most of the original content, and then the other accounts just retweet it. But these are real people. This is not an automated bot campaign that people have paid for. 

    Christopher Bouzie, the CEO of Bot Sentinel, told me that it was really interesting that they are able to hide from a lot of what Bot Sentinel's automatic analysis would do. They had to do this report manually. They had to look at each account manually because they're so good at hiding these negative Meghan tweets with positive tweets about the rest of the royal family. So that sort of helps them slide under the radar, but also raises some questions. It's not just people who hate Meghan and Harry. It's people who support the royal family, and particularly who support Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

    BuzzFeed Daily: You mentioned that you spoke with Christopher, and he's even personally coming under fire on Twitter for launching the investigation. Do you get a sense that these kinds of personal online attacks are just part of his everyday job?

    EH: No, it's not. Christopher and I are now Signal buddies because we're trying to deal with the amount of harassment that we're both getting. For me, at least, it's calling out my journalistic credentials. But for Christopher, it's a million times worse. He's a Black man. People have tweeted photos of him comparing him to a primate. But the worst thing with him is that it's getting really personal. Someone created a fake Twitter account pretending to be his daughter and claimed that he was a child abuser — someone using old photos from his account pretending to be his daughter. And he's like, "My daughter is a grown woman" and they're putting photos of a teenager out there. Someone's tweeted his home address. People have gone through old court records. He had bankruptcy records. Everything got eventually worked out, but people were like, "Oh, he's bankrupt, and that's why he's doing all of this. He's just trying to get money for Bot Sentinel" — which is a crowdfunded sort of system operation. So it's horrible.

    BuzzFeed Daily: So he's literally getting all of this hate just because he investigated why Meghan Markle is getting hate.

    EH: Yeah, and the whole reason he was interested in it was because he made some positive tweet about Meghan and Harry, I think when they were in New York a few weeks ago, and people immediately glommed on to it. And the biggest thing was an anti-Meghan and Harry person went to a photo he tweeted of his dead mother, who died of COVID-19, and said something like, "Well, it's a good thing she's dead, so she doesn't have to be ashamed of her son." 

    And then he was like, "Oh, you messed with the wrong one, you messed with the wrong one today. I wasn't going to pay attention, but now I am." So it was literally people coming after him that led to him doing this bigger report. And he's actually now introduced something to track hate accounts, which he defined as — and I also agree with his definition — single-purpose hate accounts. 

    And you see this sometimes with fan accounts, like a lot of BTS fans have separate BTS accounts. I won't name names, but one of my colleagues at BuzzFeed News has a separate account just for BTS stuff. But that's to support something. But with Meghan and Harry accounts, it's not promoting something. These accounts' only purpose is to spread misinformation, or just hate, about this couple.

    BuzzFeed Daily: One of the most bizarre things about this story is that this campaign doesn't seem to have a motive — there's no goal they're trying to achieve, other than being incredibly mean and harmful. I know this is speculative, but why do you think these targeted attacks are happening?

    Mondadori Portfolio / Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

    EH: Like you said, there is no goal. But one part of this that also makes it very interesting is that they actively seek out people who say nice things about Meghan Markle. And when this story first came out, I was seeing tweets from other reporters saying, "Yeah, after I interviewed Meghan, I had people in my mentions saying vile things, not just for weeks, but for months." 

    So if there is any goal, it's actively continuing to do these things. It's not just passive — it's tweeting out this misinformation to the world, but also checking in on accounts that say nice things. Christopher and I talked about this, and it's one of the weirdest things about this campaign, because there is no end game. 

    Bot Sentinel did some analysis on accounts tweeting in support of either Amber Heard or Johnny Depp. (I'm sure you know there's an ongoing lawsuit about whether or not she abused him.) Also, sidenote — equally rabid communities will come after you and harass you if you have a different opinion on these things. It's bad, I've talked to other reporters about it as well.

    But they have a goal. People who like Amber Heard and believe her want her to be exonerated. People who support Johnny Depp want her to face charges for this, and they also want her fired from the Aquaman sequel and other movies. So that's the same level of celebrity — because let's refer to Harry and Meghan as celebrities — the same level of celebrity interest and fandom. But there's a goal there. There is no goal here.

    Christopher was talking to me and said — I think he actually tweeted this, too — you can't even say the goal is for them to leave the royal family anymore. Like, they've moved. They live in California and they're really happy. They're doing their charity stuff and their deals with Netflix and Spotify. What is the goal? Do you just want her to kill herself? Do you want Harry to divorce her and come back? There is no clear goal here. It's just hate.

    We also talked about Ryan Reynolds sharing how his large body of work is owed in part to his anxiety.

    Photo of Ryan Reynolds looking off-camera
    The Chosunilbo Jns / ImaZins via Getty Images

    He told the Wall Street Journal: “I tend to pave over anxiety with work and, to a lesser extent, achievement. I tend to bite off way more than I could or should chew."

    He added that he thinks his quote “Canadian sensibility” makes him feel like he always has to follow through on his promises, even when it’s at the cost of his own well-being.

    Speaking of struggles with mental health, Chance the Rapper recently talked about his own with Taraji P. Henson on her Facebook Watch show.

    Facebook: video.php

    After saying he’s been through “a lot of dark days,” Chance opened up about witnessing violence, saying: "Obviously I deal with PTSD. I saw my friend killed in front of me when I was 19, and I've seen people I didn't know get killed, too. You become kind of numb to it; like somebody else died last week, but it stays with you, you know what I mean? And you don't realize until later — like I have lasting effects."

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.

    Roy Rochlin / Getty Images

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex visit One World Observatory at One World Observatory on September 23, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)