#HateIsAVirus: Talking about COVID-19 ‘Hate’

Some of my recent thoughts and observations on COVID-19 ‘hate speech’

Viral Discourse

A recent report by moonshot found that there has been a 300% rise in hashtags on Twitter that “encourage or incite violence against China and Chinese people”. The tech company analyzed 193,000 COVID-19 related tweets between Feb 21 and Apr 17, 2020, and generated the top 10 English hashtags that potentially encourage violence or ‘hate’.

Screenshot credit: moonshot

While many incidents of ‘hate’ target China, where the virus reportedly first spread, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hashtags and social media posts are also on the rise. Although ‘hate speech’ has been around for decades in the physical world, the shareability of social media seems to amplify its spread. Verbal aggression around the pandemic has reportedly given rise to an increase in physical violence against people of Asian descent. As I was looking up recent incidents of ‘hate speech’, a full Wikipedia page has already been created to document the long list…

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Published by Carmen Lee

Carmen Lee is Associate Editor of the journal Discourse, Context & Media, and co-editor of the Routledge Language and Digital Media book series. Her research interests include digital discourse, internet multilingualism, and online aggression . Her major publications include Language Online (2013, Routledge, with D. Barton) and Multilingualism Online (2017, Routledge). She is currently Director of the MA in Applied English Linguistics programme at CUHK.

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