The British Royal Family has unveiled an official set of social media guidelines "to help create a safe environment" on accounts run by the Royal Family, Clarence House and Kensington Palace, a press release states. "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 statement reads.
The newly-unveiled social media guidelines say:
Comments must not:
- Contain spam, be defamatory of any person, deceive others, be obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive, hateful, inflammatory or promote sexually explicit material or violence.
- Promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.
- Breach any of the terms of any of the social media platforms themselves.
- Be off-topic, irrelevant or unintelligible. Contain any advertising or promote any services.
The rules also confirm the accounts have the right to delete comments or block users that don't follow the guidelines, or send comments to authorities if deemed appropriate.
While the Royal Family didn't reveal why the guidelines have been introduced, the announcement comes months after the Duchess of Sussex and the Duchess of Cambridge were targeted by online trolls and feud rumours. Last year royal correspondent Emily Nash reported that threats have been made to the duchesses and their own fans were targeting each other with online abuse. Nash added that Kensington Palace staff were "spending hours each week moderating sexist and racist comments" aimed at Meghan and Kate.
Kensington Palace made a similar rare statement in 2016 after Prince Harry's relationship with Meghan went public. In it, the prince called out the "wave of abuse and harassment" Meghan had experienced from social media users and the tabloid media. Such criticism included "outright sexism and racism," Harry said in a statement.
“It is not just the royal princesses who are being trolled, every royal journalist, every royal correspondent is being trolled as well,” royal biographer Claudia Joseph told Reuters. “People see their opinions as valid and I don’t think they totally understand journalists do research, that the royals have a job to do.”
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and ex-wife of the queen’s second son Prince Andrew, called on social media firms to do more following the Hello! Campaign, saying it was not a matter of free speech.
“Much of social media has become a sewer,” she said on Twitter last month. “Tech firms need to do much more to take a stand against online abuse, rather than shrugging their shoulders.”
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