The hate toward Asians amid the COVID-19 pandemic has not only increased in physical spaces but in the vile corners of the internet too, unsurprisingly.
On Twitter, hate speech toward China and the Chinese people, in particular, has reportedly surged to a whopping 900%, with instigators using the “general feeling of uncertainty and tension to stir up discriminatory behavior.”
[REPORT] 🚨 Rising Levels of Hate Speech & Online Toxicity During This Time of Crisis 🚨 With people spending more time on social networks, it’s not surprising that hate, abuse, toxicity, and bullying have all increased. See the full report here ➡️ https://t.co/JD0mgU2xmS pic.twitter.com/aMLTi6c76e
— L1ght (@L1ghtHQ) March 26, 2020
The figure comes from a new report from L1ght, an Israeli artificial intelligence startup that analyzed millions of websites, social networks, teen chat forums and gaming platforms beginning December 2019.
“According to our data, racist abuse is being targeted most explicitly against Asians, including Asian Americans. Toxic tweets are using explicit language to accuse Asians of carrying the coronavirus and blaming people of Asian origin as a collective for spreading the virus,” L1ght noted in its report.
Such a spike appears to be influenced by quarantine measures enforced to control the outbreak, which consequently forced people to stay at home and spend more time online.
L1ght analyzed text alongside images, videos and voice recordings to identify “increases in hate speech, cyberbullying and general online toxicity.” While doing so, researchers witnessed a shift in the use of terminology surrounding the coronavirus.
Original hashtags such as #COVIDー19, #coronavirus, #COVID19, #StayAtHome and #MinaredenDua were gradually taken over by new hashtags like #chinaliedpeopledied, #KungFlu, #communistvirus, #WuhanVirus and #ChineseVirus.
Aside from a 900% increase in hate posts, L1ght also discovered a 200% growth in traffic to hate sites and “specific posts” against Asians.
“Chink, gook, slant, nip, zipper-head, squint, yellowman, coolie, slope — it’s all sooo confusing! They all look the same. They all eat rice,” one post from a “prominent site” said, according to the report.
To make matters worse, one replied to that comment, “Very true. However, we might have offended the occasional noodle n***er that visits this site if he thinks we’re giving credit to the gooks for coronavirus. They’re sensitive, you know.”
Some media outlets have also contributed to more hate speech by producing “instigating materials,” L1ght noted. According to the report, one of them is Sky News Australia, which published a video titled “China ‘willfully inflicted coronavirus upon the world.'”
The video, which was published on March 20, has now more than 562,000 views. “If I live through all this, I will never, ever forgive China,” one viewer wrote in the comments.
L1ght also found a 70% uptick in instances of hate speech between kids and teens, as well as a 40% increase in toxicity among gamers.
Read the full report here.