“Poisonous” racial slurs against Meghan Markle on Twitter a year later

Caption: Racist tweets aimed at Meghan Markle are still online a year after they were posted Credit: Backgrid

Twitter has been urged to take action after Meghan Markle was attacked with racial slurs on the platform (Image: Backgrid/Twitter)

Racist tweets targeting Meghan Markle have lingered on the platform more than a year after they were posted.

The comments keep using the N-word and making hateful insults about their right to be part of the royal family.

The Duchess of Sussex, 41, was targeted by the troll during episodes of the blockbuster interview she and Prince Harry gave to Oprah Winfrey.

The account has remained online despite Twitter’s assurances that malicious content would be automatically scanned and the offending posts reported to the channel.

Twitter has faced an outcry over the racist targeting of British footballers on the social network, with Crown prosecutors working with police and football associations to hold perpetrators accountable.

A prominent anti-racism activist said the platform must do more to fight racist, discriminatory and harmful content.

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Meghan Markle was hit with racist comments on Twitter, which have remained online despite being tagged (Image: Backgrid)

Weyman Bennett, joint national organizer of Stand Up To Racism, told Metro.co.uk that the abusive content targeted at Meghan reflects a broader “toxicity” infecting social networks.

He said: “This kind of toxicity undermines equality for all of us, and Twitter is doing us a disservice by not upholding the standards it sets.

“Social media has been a vehicle of racist mobilization against the majority of people who are anti-racist and claim it is all about freedom of expression, when in reality they are a vehicle to promote division and exclusion.

“Twitter must have zero tolerance for content that is racist, sexist and attacks people because of their sexuality.”

The tweets, which also insulted Prince Harry, were posted in July 2021 from an account that sported a picture of a woman on the profile badge.

Mr Bennett told Metro.co.uk that posts targeting royals and other high-profile figures “normalise” hateful and discriminatory behaviour.

“The idea that discrimination is just a way of looking at things is being normalized,” he said. “Nobody prevents anyone from speaking bile in their own home, but publicizing that and normalizing it for millions of people is something we should oppose.”

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are interviewed in this undated handout photo by Oprah Winfrey. Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 (Image: Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Reuters)

Philip Grindell, CEO and founder of Defuse, a threat and intelligence consultancy, believes that despite the complexities of identifying rule violations, social networks should improve their response to objectionable content.

“The N-word is often contextual,” he said. “For example, if a rapper used it in a song, it seems perfectly acceptable.

“So this puts Twitter in a tough spot because you just have to look at how many profile names and descriptions contain the N-word.

“You can’t tell if a post is from a black or white person, or look at the context of billions of tweets every day. So they probably look at keywords, and if they took a zero-tolerance approach, it would upset a large segment of the black community that owns the word.

“There are two other types of people who could use racist language on social media. Trolls are like school bullies, and they pick up every element of a person’s appearance or personality, such as their weight, skin color, or sexual identity. Then there is the more extreme, white racist perspective, fueled by hatred of black people.

“The most important thing is that someone who complains about racism on Twitter responds and explains why they did or didn’t take action.

“In many cases they take a long time to reply or have done nothing at all and have not explained why. This means fewer people will report hateful content because they see it as a pointless exercise.”

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 7, 2013, a banner bearing the logo of Twitter is affixed to the front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. - Twitter's lawsuit to force Elon Musk to complete its $44 billion buyout bid is set to go to trial Oct. 17, a US judge has ordered, in a high-stakes case for both sides. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP) (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Twitter says its reporting process notifies users when content violates its rules (Image: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty)

Mr Grindell added: “Any use of racist or any other form of hate speech or threats is totally unacceptable and deeply offensive and hurtful, not only to the target individual but to all who see it.

“All social media platforms need to do better and explain their decision-making to complainants.”

Kate Middleton was also trolled with racial abuse and threatening language after Meghan spoke to Oprah about her rift.

A spate of online insults aimed at the Duchess of Cambridge included offensive comments referring to the color of her skin. One account spat out a post telling her to “count your days” alongside a racial slur.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 9 File photo dated 06/08/13 of a person using a laptop. According to the City of London Police, financial losses caused by cybercrime increased by almost three-quarters as the UK went into lockdown. PA photo. Issue date: Wednesday September 9, 2020 The force, which runs the national Action Fraud service, said it had received 3,916 reports of online incidents in the first month of the lockdown alone - equivalent to €2.9 million in reported losses and an increase of almost 72% compared to the previous month. See PA story TECHNOLOGY Cyber. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Activists want social media giants to crack down on trolls spreading abuse and hate on social media (Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

The racist posts targeting Meghan were still online today, 24 hours after they were reported to Twitter by Metro.co.uk.

The platform has a “hateful behavior policy” that includes anti-racism and a “zero tolerance” attitude towards violent threats. It has said that 50% of “violating” content is identified by its automated systems.

The platform told Sky News: “We are committed to fighting abuse and, as set out in our Hateful Behavior Policy, do not tolerate abuse or harassment of people based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Metro.co.uk has reached out to Twitter for further comment.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who live in California with their children Archie and Lilibet, will visit the UK next month to attend charity events, their first trip since the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in early June.

The couple’s rocky track record with Buckingham Palace includes their Oprah interview in March 2021, in which they claimed there had been “talks” within the royal family about how dark Archie could be.

Buckingham Palace responded by saying “some memories may vary” but the issues raised were “concerning” and would be addressed privately.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/08/19/toxic-racist-slurs-against-meghan-markle-still-on-twitter-a-year-on-17212678/ "Poisonous" racial slurs against Meghan Markle on Twitter a year later

Justin Scacco

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