Saturday, April 17, 2021

How to set the stage for anti-Asian activity online real-world violence

Negative Asian-American tropes have been online for a long time, but began to rise from last March as parts of the United States went into lockdown of coronoviruses. That month, leaders including Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona and California Representative Kevin McCarthy used the words “Wuhan Virus” and “Chinese Coronavirus” to refer to Kovid-19 in their tweets.

Those words then started trending online, according to a study From University of California, Berkeley. The day Mr. Gosar posted his tweet, the use of the term “Chinese virus” on Twitter jumped 650 percent; A day later their use in conservative news articles increased by 800 percent, the study found.

Mr. Trump posted eight times on Twitter last March about the “Chinese virus”, triggering a vitriolic response. In response to one of his posts, a Trump supporter responded, “U was the cause of the virus,” directing the comment to an Asian Twitter user who cited US death figures for Kovid-19. Trump’s fan made a false statement about Asians.

In a study this week from the University of California, San Francisco, researchers who Investigated 700,000 tweets before and after Mr. Trump’s March 2020 post found that people who posted the hashtag #chinesevirus were more likely to use racist hashtags, including #bateatingchinese.

“There is a lot of discussion that the ‘Chinese virus’ is not racist and can be used,” said Yulin Hwen, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of California at San Francisco, who conducted the research. But he said the term has changed to “rally to be able to gather those feelings and galvanize them, which normalize racist beliefs.”

Representatives for Mr. Trump, Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Gosar did not respond to requests for comment.

Misinformation linking coronovirus to anti-Asian beliefs also increased last year. Since last March, there have been around eight million mentions of anti-Asian online speech, much of it lies, according to Jignal Labs, a media-based firm.

In one example, a Fox News article from April that went viral stated that the coronovirus was produced in a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan and released intentionally. According to data from Jignal and CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool for analyzing social media, the article was liked and shared over a million times on Facebook and retweeted 78,800 times on Twitter.

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