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Virus prompts surge of hate speech toward Chinese on Twitter

The coronavirus outbreak has led to a 900 percent uptick in hate speech toward China and Chinese people on Twitter, according to a report by a tech startup.

“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 says in its 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,” adds the startup that uses artificial intelligence to detect harmful content in social networks.

It said 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 finds.

It says that a lot of people are using racist hashtags such as #Kungflu, #chinesevirus and #communistvirus, as they tweet about the pandemic.

Source: AFP