Royal Family Lays Out Social Media Guidelines After Reports of Online Bullying Towards Kate & Meghan

The royal family is taking a stance against social media bullies following reports of online abuse around Duchesses Kate and Meghan.

In a rare statement Monday, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace issued new guidelines for engaging with the royals on their social media accounts, saying the palaces reserve the right to block users and send comments that breach the new guidelines to the police, E! News reports.

“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 palaces' statement read. “We ask that anyone engaging with our social media channels shows courtesy, kindness and respect for all other members of our social media communities.”

According to the new guidelines, comments on social media must not “contain spam, be defamatory of any person, deceive others, be obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive, hateful, inflammatory or promote sexually explicit material or violence,” and must not promote “discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.”

In addition to social media comments following these new official terms, post must refrain from being “off-topic, irrelevant or unintelligible.”

If social media users fail to follow these new guidelines, the palaces have the right to “determine, at our discretion, whether contributions to our social media channels breach our guidelines,” and if so, may delete posts, as well as block offenders, ABC News reports.

“We also reserve the right to send any comments we deem appropriate to law enforcement authorities for investigation as we feel necessary or is required by law,” the palaces’ statement concluded.

While there was no specific reasoning given for the new social media guidelines, the announcement comes just a few weeks after Hello! magazine reported that Kensington Palace aides devote hours each week moderating comments on social media and deleting violent, sexist and racist comments made toward Kate and Meghan. In response, Hello! launched a campaign called #HelloToKindness to promote positivity and prevent hurtful comments online.

British media also circulated reports earlier this year about alleged tensions between the two duchesses and that Meghan was facing difficulties in assimilating into the royal life.

The online bullying, however, isn’t just directed at Kate and Meghan as fans take sides between the two, but also between fans who criticize each other in the comments.

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and ex-wife of Prince Andrew, wrote a candid letter published in Hello! last month, taking aim at what she calls the “sewer” of social media. The duchess compared the online bullying towards Kate and Meghan to what the media did with her and Princess Diana.

“Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt,” she wrote.