Since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal exit, the Sussexes have been conspicuously absent from social media. There are, no doubt, several factors at play in that decision, but it’s hard to imagine that the trolling Meghan suffered in particular doesn’t have something to do with the couple’s social media silence.
According to Express, before the royal exit, “Meghan would be targeted with ‘vile’ online abuse and staff would spend hours trying to delete ‘thousands’ of comments.”
“It was pretty vile for a while,” a source told The Sun. “There are automated tools which help to police the very inappropriate comments getting through and also manual moderation—but there are often thousands of comments. It only takes a couple of people to stir up a really nasty conversation with people being very aggressive. The issue of concern is about how people are treating each other.”
In March of 2019, The Sun reported that Meghan had been the target of 5,200 “hateful and racist” tweets during the course of just two months. In response to the online abuse that Meghan, as well as her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, received, the royals went so far as to issue a formal statement on the issue.
“We ask that anyone engaging with our social media channels shows courtesy, kindness and respect for all other members of our social media communities,” the Palace said in a statement.
On the royal family’s website, rules for online conduct included a call for comments not to “contain spam, be defamatory of any person, deceive others, be obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive, hateful, inflammatory or promote sexually explicit material or violence” or “promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age,” the Sun reported in 2019.
In an October 2020 interview for the Teenager Therapy podcast, Meghan addressed the experience directly, describing it as “almost unsurvivable.”
“I’m told that in 2019 I was the most trolled person in the entire world, male or female,” she explained. “Now eight months of that, I wasn’t even visible. I was on maternity leave or with a baby. But what was able to just be manufactured and churned out, it’s almost unsurvivable. That’s so big, you can’t even think of what that feels like. Because I don’t care if you’re 15 or 25, if people are saying things about you that aren’t true, what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging.”
Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Meghan and Harry are done with social media for good. In a recent interview, Harry denied reports that their current step away from such platforms is intended to be permanent.
“We will revisit social media when it feels right for us—perhaps when we see more meaningful commitments to change or reform—but right now we’ve thrown much of our energy into learning about this space and how we can help,” Harry told Fast Company.
This article originally appeared on marie claire U.S.