L1ght has released a report about the recent explosion of online hate speech and cyberbullying as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.
L1ght conducted a deep-dive into millions of websites, teen chat rooms, and gaming platforms and revealed an alarming rise in online toxicity and cyberbullying. According to the collected data, much of this hate and abuse is being directed at Chinese people specifically but extends to individuals of Asian origin in other parts of the world as well.
The full report can be found here.
In the report, L1ght noted sharp increases in hate speech, cyberbullying, and general online toxicity. Some fascinating highlights from the report include:
- 900% increase in hate speech on Twitter directed towards China and the Chinese
According to the data, instigators of hate are likely using the general feeling of uncertainty and tension to stir up discriminatory behavior and racist abuse. This is being targeted most explicitly at Asians, including Asian Americans. Toxic tweets and inflammatory hashtags are using explicit language to accuse Asians of carrying and spreading the coronavirus.
- 200% increase in traffic to hate sites
Along with the general increase in internet traffic, L1ght found that traffic to known hate sites grew by 200%. Even mainstream sites have encouraged this to some degree; for example Sky News Australia published a video entitled “China ‘willfully inflicted coronavirus upon the world’” which quotes from Sky News host Rowan Dean. The video now has over 600k views and over 7k comments, the majority of them toxic and hateful.
- 70% increase in hate between kids and teens during online chats
More children are using online platforms to socialize during their quarantine and social distancing. Concurrently, there has been a notable increase in levels of bullying and abusive language among children. In fact, across communication channels on social media and popular chat forums, L1ght has identified an 70% uptick in instances of hate speech between kids and teens.
- 40% increase in toxicity on popular gaming platforms such as Discord
Discord has long been associated with toxic and abusive content. But recently, L1ght has uncovered a 40% increase in toxicity among gamers communicating using its platforms. L1ght attributes this to the amount of free time that people – especially children – have in the current climate, leading to more time being spent playing video games.
The L1ght report on the rising levels of hate speech & online toxicity linked to the impact of the coronavirus has been featured in the following publications:
Channel News Asia, COVID-19: Huge surge of hate speech toward Chinese on Twitter
Cheddar, Online Toxicity During Coronavirus
CTech by Calcalist, The Challenge of Flattening the Online Hate Curve
South China Morning Post, Coronavirus prompts surge of hate speech toward Chinese on Twitter, report says
The Telegraph (mention), Coronavirus: US now leads the world for most infected with more than 100,000 cases
Times of Israel (mention), Live Blog, March 29
Yahoo! News (AFP), Coronavirus: Huge surge of hate speech toward Chinese on Twitter
Times of Malta, Coronavirus: Huge surge of hate speech toward Chinese on Twitter
9to5mac.com (mention), Tech coronavirus roundup: From police scam warnings to Facebook returnees
Digital Trends, Warning that online hatred towards China is growing
Gadgets Africa, Coronaracism: The Deadly Offspring of The COVID-19
New Straits Time, Covid-19: Surge of hate speech toward Chinese on Twitter
Research Snipers, China Sees Over 900% Increase In Hate Speech On Twitter
Rio Times Online, Hate Speech Against Chinese on Twitter Grows 900 Percent
L1ght is an AI-based startup that detects and filters toxic online content to protect children. By building algorithms that can detect and predict toxic and abusive behaviors, L1ght serves as a solution for social networks, search engines, gaming platforms, and hosting providers to identify and eradicate cyberbullying, harmful content, hate speech, and predatory behavior.
The advent of the coronavirus crisis must serve as a wakeup call. Widespread closures of physical establishments like businesses and schools have caused a dramatic increase in online traffic. 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 increased. L1ght’s report emphasizes once again, that the rising tide of online toxicity must be stopped for good. For more information about the report, or to find out more about L1ght, get in touch.