The Twitter attacks on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry aren't organic, a new analysis shows. An analytics provider has found that 83 accounts were the source of 70% of the nastiest tweets and misinformation posted about the couple, the Guardian reports. Bot Sentinel issued a report saying 80% of the attacks against the couple focused on Markle. The report supports Markle's claims of having received online abuse. She said last year that she was staying off social media for "my own self-preservation," per Fortune. The couple's Instagram account went dormant last year.
The accounts tracked by Bot Sentinel totaled more than 187,000 followers and had the potential to reach 17 million Twitter users, per the Washington Post. They didn't interact with each other the way they would naturally, which the report said was an indication the attacks were coordinated. A Twitter spokesman said four of the 55 primary accounts identified in the report have been suspended. Bot Sentinel's CEO said tweets against Harry and Meghan took a dive after the report came out. "If the activity had been organic, we wouldn't have witnessed such a sharp decrease in that short period of time," Christopher Bouzy said.
Most of the hate tweets, some of which employed coded racist language, evidently were created by humans, Bot Sentinel said. "We looked for automated accounts and found very little evidence of bot activity," Bouzy said. The platform analyzed 114,000 tweets in all. BuzzFeed News looked at tweets from the 55 accounts and found posts saying that Markle faked her pregnancy and that her children aren't real or were born to a surrogate. "There’s a difference between free speech and literally harassing someone," Bouzy said.
Most of the primary accounts took steps to evade detection and suspension, Bouzy said, including taking the accounts private or briefly deactivating them. "They’re doing things our technology isn’t going to catch," he said. Twitter, however, said it has not found any indications of "widespread coordination, the use of multiple accounts by single people, or other platform manipulation tactics." There was no immediate comment from Prince Harry or Markle. (Read more Meghan Markle stories.)