The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published on Friday a new study that points out a dramatic spike in anti-Asian sentiment and conspiracy theories about the spread of coronavirus in the days following President Donald Trump's first tweet about his positive coronavirus diagnosis on October 2.
The study was conducted by the ADL’s Center for Technology and Society and is based on an analysis of more than 2.7 million tweets. Its findings were unveiled in a virtual press conference hosted by Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
The study focused on Twitter activity. It found that in the 12 hours after the president’s initial tweet about his and the first lady’s coronavirus diagnosis, there was an 85% increase in anti-Asian language and conspiracy theories tracked on the platform.
Anti-Asian language on Twitter remained higher than usual between October 2-5, the study showed.
The study also found that the rate of discussions about various conspiracy theories increased by 41%, with some of those conversations also taking on antisemitic overtones.
“The level of hatred and vitriol that was aimed at Asian Americans and Chinese people on social media is simply staggering,” ADL CEO, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, said.
“The hate speech and stereotyping are irresponsible and can spillover into real world violence. With the alarming increase in physical attacks and hate crimes against Asian Americans in recent months, it is clear that all leaders, including our president, need to stop blaming others for spreading the virus.”
The data was gathered with the ADL Online Hate Index, a new tool that uses state of the art technologies such as machine learning to investigate the prevalence of hate speech on social media platforms.
“Misinformation and xenophobia are dangerous. That is why the CDC and WHO have both warned not to associate COVID-19 with a specific people or country because of the stigma it causes. And now, thanks to the ADL’s report, we are able to see that harmful impact in real time,” Chu said.
“As the ADL’s report shows, the alarming anti-Asian hate incidents we have witnessed in recent months are not an accident. They are the result of an atmosphere of xenophobia and bigotry that is thriving on Twitter and other online platforms.”