From the beginning of her relationship with Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has been the subject of nonstop abuse and harassment in the press and on social media.
These days, of course, virtually every public figure becomes a target of criticism at some point in their career, but Meghan’s case was very different from most.
The vitriol that was directed at her was far more aggressive and relentless than the hate that’s usually hurled at celebrities.
In fact, the situation was so strange that an analytics firm called Bot Sentiel decided to launch an investigation.
And their findings painted a disturbing picture of the current state of social media, as well as the lengths to which some people will go to settle a personal grudge.
The company examined over 114,000 tweets disparaging Meghan and determined that 70 percent of them originated from just 83 accounts.
Most of these profiles were revealed to be “single-purpose hate accounts," meaning that they did nothing but criticize Meghan.
And in many cases, their content received a tremendous amount of engagement despite relatively small followings for the creators, a fact that raised questions about what sort of tweets Twitter chooses to boost.
The situation lead Bot Sentinel CEO Christopher Bouzy to the conclusion that Meghan was targeted by a coordinated harassment campaign.
Not surprisingly, much of the activity was traced to Meghan’s wicked half-sister, Samantha Markle.
Samantha is currently suing Meghan, alleging that she was defamed in statements the Duchess made in an unrelated lawsuit.
Many believe that the suit is Samantha’s way of lashing out amid claims that she was behind several of the anti-Meghan Twitter accounts that were suspended after Bot Sentinel’s report went public.
Perhaps hoping to avoid a similar controversy, YouTube has now taken proactive steps to curb the popularity of content whose sole purpose is to stir up negative sentiment toward Meghan.
According to Buzzfeed News, YouTube has deranked dozens of channels that featured nothing but anti-Meghan content.
The outlet notes that as recently as one week ago, a search for "Meghan Markle" would bring up results pertaining to Samantha’s claim that Meghan didn’t give birth to her son Archie, as well as other bizarre rumors (most of which originate with Samantha).
Asked if the change was a result of the recent controversies highlighted by the Bot Sentinnel findings and the Samantha lawsuit, YouTube insisted that that was not the case.
“For news and certain topics prone to misinformation, we’ve trained our systems over the years to elevate content from authoritative sources in search results and recommendations,” spokesperson Elena Hernandez said.
“Millions of search queries get this treatment today, including certain queries related to Meghan Markle," Hernandez continued.
"As with all queries, search results on YouTube are algorithmically ranked and constantly changing as new content is uploaded over time.”
Buzzfeed notes that the change in results only applies to searches for Meghan’s name with no additional modifiers.
Search “Meghan Markle pregnancy” or “Meghan Markle Harry,” for example, and you’ll still receive content that was seemingly created for the sole purpose of spreading hateful lies about the Duchess of Sussex.
YouTube’s decision — whether by committee or algorithm — to begin the process of minimizing the influence of these single-purpose hate accounts comes at a fortuitous time.
Last week, Meghan made her first return visit to the UK since she and Harry stepped down from their roles as senior members of the royal family over two years ago.
Meghan and Harry visited the Queen during their time in London, and insiders say the two sides were able to reach an accord after years of tension.
Now that she’s back on good terms with her royal in-laws, Meghan has only her lesser enemies to deal with — namely, the British tabloid press and Samantha.
The former is being dealt with via a series of lawsuits — Meghan and Harry have sued at least eight outlets since moving to America.
Meghan will do battle with the latter foe sometime this year, when Samantha’s libel case goes to trial (it seems unlikely that the Duchess will settle out of court, which is probably what Samantha was hoping for).
Amid this upswing in Meghan’s fortunes, did YouTube execs read the writing on the wall and decide to silence their in-house haters before they wound up in court themselves?
Whatever the case, their timing couldn’t be better.