Yes, Meghan Markle Is the Victim of a Coordinated (And Lucrative) Online Attack Campaign

Culture

When Meghan Markle learned, in 2019, that she was one of the “most trolled [people] in the entire world, male or female,” she didn’t reveal the stat on a podcast the following year so she could scrounge up pity. It seems she was trying, desperately, to communicate just how dire her situation had become. In hindsight, after the revelations of her and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey and the ensuing media frenzy, these comments seem downright prescient.

That malaise continues into the present day, as the final report in a series of three by data analytics service Bot Sentinel revealed on January 18 that Meghan was (and is) the victim of a targeted “hate-for-profit enterprise.” The report reveals a category of anti-Meghan YouTube channels have not only amassed more than 497 million combined views, but earned an estimated $3.48 million total in the process. The three top creators within this cohort, each of them women, have earned an estimated $494,730 from their videos and funneled their campaigns onto Twitter, where they’ve spread the misinformation to journalists and royal experts.

This analysis comes after two previous reports from Bot Sentinel, both of which revealed the extent to which Meghan hate accounts have impacted news coverage. The analytics service found that the majority of anti-Meghan posts on Twitter came from fewer than 90 accounts, with a combined estimated reach of 17 million users. According to Bot Sentinel, nine out of 10 “prominent Twitter accounts that primarily cover the royal family” had interacted with at least one of these hate accounts.

“Although we limited our investigation to 10 journalists and royal commentators, our research demonstrated two royal experts amplified hate accounts, and at least in one instance, a hate account influenced a journalist’s reporting,” Bot Sentinel stated within the report. “It’s our opinion that several of the most well-known and active hate accounts were actively targeting journalists and royal commentators to boost their visibility and amplify their hate campaign, and in some cases, they were successful.”

Perhaps what is most alarming about these findings is how these coordinated attacks were rewarded, financially, by YouTube. Bot Sentinel found that the majority of hate campaigns were led or participated in by predominantly white women between the ages of 38-65, who were chiefly motivated by “racism and YouTube ad revenue.”

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