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Are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Quitting Social Media for Good?

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Markle stopped using her personal account. Eventually, she deleted the whole thing. Upon her engagement to the prince in November 2017, she joined @Kensingtonroyal, a joint account shared by her fiancé, Prince William, and Kate Middleton.

But things did not get better. In fact, they arguably got worse, especially after the British tabloids reported on tension between the duchesses of Sussex and Cambridge. Accounts hurled sexist and racist abuse at the women, so much that Kensington Palace released new guidelines saying they reserved rights to delete comments, block users, and even report transgressions to the police. According to CNN, palace staff had to employ software to filter out the N-word as well as threatening emojis like the knife and the gun. Meanwhile, an online advocacy group, Hope Not Hate, analyzed 5,000 tweets with anti-Meghan hashtags. They found that just 20 accounts were responsible for about 70% of the negative tweets. Many of them included hashtags like #Brexit and #MAGA in their bios.

This September, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex appeared on ABC’s Time100 special. From their California home, they asked viewers to both vote and fight against internet misinformation. “When one person buys into negativity online, the effects are felt exponentially. It’s time to not only reflect but act,” urged Prince Harry. “As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity. What we consume, what we are exposed to, and what we engage with online has a real effect on all of us.” A month later, Prince Harry again talked to Time about the “global crisis of hate.” Their critics, both in America and abroad, accused the two of essentially endorsing Joe Biden. This, they argued, was a slap in the face to the royal family, known for their forever neutrality. But after the events of January 6—which were organized largely over social media—their statements don’t feel political but rather for the public good.

In late December, the duke and duchess’s foundation, Archewell, announced five new partnerships. Two of them, the Center for Humane Technology and the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, fight for factual and safe online communities. A third, Stanford Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, studies how we can just be, well, kinder people.

The year 2021 promises to be a prominent one for the Sussexes. Some of their Netflix projects will stream, their Spotify podcast will continue apace, and they’ll continue to do talks and appearances. They just maybe won’t bother posting it on social media. And why should they?

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