The paper quotes a source they say is close to the couple stating they won’t use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platforms to promote their non-profit Archewell Foundation. Thus far, the organization has no official social media accounts linked to it. They’re also “very unlikely” to return to personal social media accounts, apparently.
Their Sussex Royal Instagram account, which broke world records for reaching a million followers just a few hours after it was founded in April 2019, is still up. But it hasn’t been updated since late March 2020, when the couple officially stepped down from their roles as senior working members of the Royal Family.
“As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute,” they wrote. “While you may not see us here, the work continues.”
The move away from Instagram at that time was the result of the couple’s desire for a more private, independent life, as well as a ruling that they would no longer be allowed to use the word “royal” after stepping down.
If the Times is correct that the couple want to make their avoidance of social media permanent doesn’t come as much of a surprise. One of the pillars of Harry and Meghan’s non-profit is fostering healthy communities, online and off, and many of their public appearances over the last few months have focused on toxic online environments.
“Trolls and bots” are the norm in so many online spaces, Meghan said at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in September.
“That’s actually the current state of affairs and that is shaping how we interact with each other online and off — and that’s the piece that’s important,” she said. “It is not just an isolated experience. It transcends into how you interact with anyone around you and certainly your own relationship with yourself.”
In court documents filed in July as part of her lawsuit against Associated Newspapers Limited, which owns the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, Meghan’s lawyers said she’s been the subject of racist and misogynistic coverage for years as well the victim of “hundreds of thousands of inaccurate articles.”
When the news first broke in 2016 that Harry and Meghan were a couple, he took the highly unusual step of publishing a statement asking predatory media outlets to leave her alone. He specifically mentioned “the racial undertones of comment pieces and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
More recently, Meghan has called the hate she’s received “almost unsurvivable.”
“I’m told that in 2019, I was the most trolled person in the entire world ― male or female,” Meghan said in a joint interview with Harry on an episode of the podcast “Teenager Therapy” released in October.
“That’s so big you can’t even think of what that feels like,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re 15 or if you’re 25, if people are saying things about you that aren’t true, what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging.”
In early 2019, the Royal Family actually instituted a social media policy following reports that Kensington Palace staff had to spend hours moderating abusive comments directed at Meghan and her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton.
“It follows a Kate vs Meghan narrative and some of the worst stuff is between Kate fans and Meghan fans,” Hello! reported at the time. “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?”
Harry has weighed in, too. The Duke of Sussex, who reportedly used to use a secret Instagram account, talked about the negative effects online hate can have on mental health during the couple’s online talk hosted by Time in October.
“This is a global crisis,” he said. “A global crisis of hate, a global crisis of misinformation and a global health crisis.”