Due To Coronavirus, Twitter Sees 900% Increase In Hate Speech Towards Chinese


The coronavirus outbreak started in China. With the disease declared a pandemic as it spreads to even more places to claim even more victims, all eyes that were once on Wuhan before going to the rest of the world, again returned to China as the country slowly recovers.

In the U.S., things go from bad to worse.

After the U.S. President Donald Trump labeled the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” the number of cases in the country quickly escalated. Steadily, the U.S. has become the place with the most people infected with the deadly disease, far surpassing China.

The pandemic, the fear, and the experience of living in isolation have also led a lot of people on the internet to constantly blame China, and abuse its citizens. From harassment to racial slurs, many people are blaming Chinese for the COVID-19.

In a report from L1ght, the company that specializes in measuring online toxicity saw that there has been a 900% growth in hate speech towards China and Chinese people on Twitter.

Most of the hate speech happened after February 2020.

Twitter Sees 900% Increase In Hate Speech Towards Chinese
Credit: L1ght
"People are spending more and more time on social networks, communication apps, chat rooms and gaming services, and the problems endemic to these platforms – hate, abuse, toxicity and bullying – have become accentuated. According to our data, much of this hate and abuse is being directed towards China and its population, as well as individuals of Asian origin in other parts of the world."

And according to the report, as more people spend more time online reading about hate speech targeted to Chinese, the number of people continues to increase.

"People are spending more and more time online, and so are being exposed to more and more hate speech and incitement. Instigators of hate are likely using the general feeling of uncertainty and tension to stir up discriminatory behavior, and, 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’s study also highlights that there have been:

  • 200% increase in traffic to hate sites and specific posts against Asians.
  • 70% increase in hate between kids and teens during online chats.
  • 40% increase in toxicity on popular gaming platforms, such as Discord.
  • 200% increase in traffic to sites and posts that targets Asians. For instance, a video posted by Sky News Australia titled “China willfully inflicted coronavirus upon the world” has a bunch of hate-filled comments.

The research also witnessed a shift in the use of terminology and search engines jargon surrounding the coronavirus.

For example, original hashtags include: #COVIDー19, #coronavirus, #COVID19, #StayAtHome and others. With the pandemic, hatred towards Chinese sparks new hashtags, such as: #chinaliedpeopledied, #Kungflu, #communistvirus, #whuanvirus and #chinesevirus.

This phenomenon, however, does not happen only on the internet.

Several news agencies have highlighted that a number of Asians living in foreign countries are increasingly facing racism.

In San Francisco in the U.S. for example, reports found more than 1,000 reported cases of xenophobia between January 28 and February 24. The UK also registered several cases of hate crime in during the same period, and in Melbourne, Australia, several parents reportedly stopped Asian doctors from treating their children.