The coronavirus outbreak has led to a 900 per cent uptick in hate speech toward China and Chinese people on Twitter, a new report has revealed.
L1ght, a company that specializes in measuring online toxicity, found hashtags such as #Kungflu, #chinesevirus and #communistvirus have become very popular among individuals tweeting about the pandemic.
The findings come as numerous US rights groups, activists and politicians have sounded the alarm about a surge in the number of racist incidents directed at Asian Americans.
L1ght analyzed millions of websites, social networks, teen chatting forums and gaming sites from December 2019 to today, along with images, videos and voice recordings to identify increases in hate speech, cyberbullying and general online toxicity.
'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,' the Israel-based company L1ght said in the report.
'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,' added the startup that uses artificial intelligence to detect harmful content in social networks.
The report states that although there are some uplifting stories being shared online as people confined because of the pandemic first detected in China turn to the Internet, there is also plenty of hate being shared.
'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,' the study found.
Certain media outlets have also been found to encourage backlash against Asians, pointing to a video on Sky news Australia titled 'China willfully inflicted coronavirus upon the world.'
Along with hate speech running rampant online, bullying and abusive language among children are also on the rise.
L1ght found a 70 percent increase of both between young children and teens.
Internet traffic to prominent hate sites has also increased 200 percent.
Along with using the internet to spread hate, users are also using to share conspiracy theories and misinformation about the deadly disease.
The UK-based charity the Center for Countering Digital Hate has been tracking 50 social media accounts that are peddling health-related misinformation.
These forums promote fake cures, question the risk from the current pandemic and peddle conspiracies suggesting that the virus was man-made for nefarious ends.
According to the center, tech firms like Facebook are not doing enough to combat coronavirus conspiracy theories and other fake information.
The spread of misinformation and fake cures has the potential to undermine efforts to tackle to coronavirus epidemic and could end up costing lives.
'Social media is currently awash with conspiracy theories, fake news, and incorrect medical advice about coronavirus and COVID-19,' said the CCDH's CEO, Imran Ahmed.
'Some of it is produced by extremists seeking to undermine faith in government and experts, some by grifters seeking to sell false cures and some are just sadly misinformed and think they’re doing the right thing by spreading the wrong advice.'
The CCDH — who counters hate and misinformation on a global scale — is presently tracking around 50 social media bodies with a total membership of 800,000 users promoting misleading information about coronavirus, the Telegraph reported. Source: