The British royal family has, in recent years, become known for sharing an open and honest account of royal life on social media, uploading regular updates from official engagements and even the odd personal post. This is, in part, a bid to maintain a degree of privacy for the family away from the public eye.
This week, however, the royals have issued social media community guidelines, "to help create a safe environment on all social media channels run by The Royal Family, Clarence House and Kensington Palace".
"The aim of our social media channels is to create an environment where our community can engage safely in debate and is free to make comments, questions and suggestions," the royals explain in an official release on their website. "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 newly unveiled guidelines dictate that comments must not:
- Contain spam, be defamatory of any person, deceive others, be obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive, hateful, inflammatory or promote 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 duchesses have been targeted by trolls regularly
It is thought that the guidelines have been put in place for the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex in particular, who are often targeted by online trolls. It's been reported that palace staff have been forced to "hours each week moderating sexist and racist comments" directed at the wives of Princes William and Harry respectively.
"The Palace has always monitored comments but it's a hugely time-consuming thing. They can block certain words, but some of it is quite serious," a royal source told British magazine Hello!.
"Over the course of last year, with hundreds of thousands of comments, there were two or three that were violent threats. You can delete and report and block people and the police have options around particular people. It’s something you have to manage because there’s no other way to control it.
"It follows a Kate vs Meghan narrative and some of the worst stuff is between Kate fans and Meghan fans," the source added. "Arguments about who looks more appropriate, for example, that turn into personal attacks on other users. It’s creating a supercharged atmosphere and everyone can join in, but what are the consequences of this?"
Under the new social media guidelines, commenters who post offensive material on the royal family's pages face being blocked and may be reported to police, the statement added.