In the trailer for the next installment of Netflix’s “Harry & Meghan” documentary, to be released on Thursday, a new character makes an appearance: Christopher Bouzy, a specialist in tracking disinformation and targeted attacks on social networks. His company, Bot Sentinel, has been monitoring inauthentic and coordinated trolling campaigns and he has been tracking online campaigns targeting Meghan Markle for years – and has since become a target himself.
The massive lucrative online campaign targeting Harry and Meghan with conspiracy theories and mass trolls is “by far the worst, worst than anything I’ve experienced doing this,” Bouzy told me.
According to a Bot Sentinel report released earlier this year, online campaigns targeting the royal couple have become a cottage industry for a handful of online influencers. Bouzy calls them “single purpose hate accounts”. Their platforms are dedicated solely to posting about the couple and, according to the report, have become “a lucrative, for-profit hate business” where “racism and YouTube ad revenue are the primary motivators.”
The report describes the conspiracy theories they promote as “reminiscent of QAnon”.
A popular theory holds that Meghan was never pregnant, her pregnancy bump faked. Proponents of this theory call themselves “Meghan Truthers”. The conspiracy’s most extreme proponents argue that his children Archie and Lilibet aren’t real at all.
One of the most prominent anti-Meghan and Harry accounts promoting the ‘moonbump’ theory was run by Sadie Quinlan, a Welsh pensioner who heavily promoted the false narrative that Meghan was never pregnant. His account, called Yankee Wally, accumulated nearly 19 million views and earned about $44,000 a year, according to Bot Sentinel’s findings. YouTube banned the account in March, citing violations of its policy against content designed to harass, intimidate or threaten.
“I truly believe Meghan Markle has NEVER been pregnant. I believe she is infertile,” Quinlan Told Buzzfeed in March. “As a British taxpayer I am not happy to pay for a pair of FRAUDULENT children.”
According to Bot Sentinel, Quinlan inadvertently revealed that she bought fake Twitter accounts en masse to promote her cause. She also posted videos on YouTube showing viewers how to push negative reviews of Meghan’s book to the top of Amazon’s book review list.
Bouzy’s research identified Yankee Wally as one of at least 25 accounts dedicated to posting anti-Meghan content around the clock on YouTube, with nearly 500 million combined views and around $3.5 million in revenue. YouTube revenue.
A YouTube spokesperson responded to an inquiry from Coda, but offered no comment for publication.
Bot Sentinel identified a core group of “predominantly Caucasian women” who successfully carried out a coordinated fake news campaign that gained massive influence, using YouTube to monetize their work and using Twitter to manipulate conversations about this platform too.
In recent weeks, Bouzy has seen increased levels of inauthentic activity aimed at targeting the couple. In the comments section below the Netflix trailer on YouTube, thousands of almost identical sarcastic comments were posted.
“I love the part where they say they draw a line under Megxit after an interview with Oprah, a podcast, a Netflix series and a book. Got a tear in my left eye,” one commenter wrote. “I love the part where Harry talks about bravely escaping his castle and his servants. This obvious discrimination triggers a tear from my left eye,” another wrote.
The structure, repeated thousands of times, begins with “I like the role” and ends with “it brings a tear to my left eye”. Many accounts are devoted solely to commenting on the trailer, with little or no other activity.
It’s a “copypasta” spamming technique where “accounts take a string of text and repeat it over and over again,” Bouzy said. And then, organically, real people start to follow suit. The resulting comments are a mix of fake accounts and real people copying an inauthentic campaign.
The attacks on Meghan and Harry have intensified since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, while people have continued to post videos explaining how to amplify negative content about the couple using VPNs and teeming websites associated with Megan. “It’s quite amazing,” Bouzy said.