Anti-Asian online hate speech surged 1,667% in 2020 in US and UK, according to new study

online abuse

An increase in online abuse towards Asian people during the pandemic has been reported worldwide, with a new study showing the number jumping 1,662% in 2020 from 2019.

Anti-Asian hate: Anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label and Brandwatch, a digital consumer intelligence company, found 5.5 million instances of anti-Asian sentiment and hate speech online since 2019.

  • The two organizations sifted through 263 million online discussions in the U.S. and the U.K. on social media sites, blogs and forums.
  • Slurs and tropes, especially targeting the Asian community, were the most common form of abuse. Attackers also used racist, sexist and homophobic terms toward other groups.
  • The uptick in online abuse saw Black Lives Matter signs being vandalized with swastikas and other racist symbols, while images of Asian people being told to go back to where they came from were also shared.
  • “It is clear that online hate speech has reached an all-time high and, to some communities, is at an unbearable extreme,” Dr. Liam Hackett, CEO of Ditch the Label said, according to Sky News. “By far, the most alarming data surrounds abuse directed towards marginalized communities, with a deep intensity surrounding racism and Asian hate.”

Key findings: Between 2019 and mid-2021, a new post discussing race or ethnicity-based hate speech appeared every 1.7 seconds.

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  • Online conversations about violent threats jumped by 22% during the onset of the pandemic and when the BLM movement rose again last summer.
  • Gender or gender identity hate speech also saw an increase of 14%, while homophobia composed 85% of discussions.
  • A draft of the U.K. government’s online safety bill, which plans to fight online abuse, is set to be published on Dec. 10.
  • “Under our pioneering Online Safety Bill social media firms will face huge fines if they fail to uphold their duty of care to protect UK users from this vile abuse,” a Department For Culture, Media & Sport spokesperson said. “But there is nothing stopping social media companies going faster now and we urge them to step up and do all they can.”

Check out the full study here.

Featured Image via Jason Leung

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