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COVID-19: Online hate speech has increased by 20% in UK since pandemic began, study finds

fr24news– Hate speech online has increased by 20% in the UK since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study.

Anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label reviewed 263 million online conversations in the UK and we on social media sites, blogs and forums between 2019 and mid-2021.

He revealed that the largest increase in abuse was aimed at the Asian population, with a 1,662% increase in anti-Asian hate speech last year, compared to 2019.

The increase in online abuse was also linked to real-world events, such as Black lives matter protests, with the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic in March 2020 and the murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer Disables.

Dr Liam Hackett, CEO of Ditch the Label, said: “It is clear that hate speech online has reached an all time high and, for some communities, is at an unbearable level.

“By far the most alarming data concerns abuses directed against marginalized communities, with deep intensity surrounding Asian racism and hatred. “

Dr Hackett told Sky News that the pandemic has made the problem worse.

“We see the pandemic as a perfect storm where we have all been suddenly locked at home with high levels of available time, but in reality the mental health of the country has generally declined,” he said.

“When you put these two things together, it’s no surprise that hate speech has increased. “

Main conclusions of the report:

  • Online hate cases and discussions have increased by 20% in UK since pandemic started
  • Between 2019 and mid-2021, there was on average one new racial or ethnic hate speech message every 1.7 seconds
  • Discussions and examples of racist hate speech culminated in the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, along with recurring discussions about immigration and Brexit UK
  • Hate speech based on ethnicity was driven primarily by the onset of the pandemic, as anti-Asian hatred became much more common and widespread

The report’s findings echo the abuse suffered by British and Chinese content creator Michelle Elman, who lives in London.

She was forced to stop working on a social media platform because of the hate messages she received – and told Sky News that while anti-Asian abuse online was not new, there was an increase during the pandemic:

“There was so much fear and anger surrounding the pandemic. It was definitely under the theme: You Caused The Pandemic, You Are The Reason I Can’t See My Family, Bat Eating Jokes, Dog Eating Jokes.

“Whenever I have spoken of anti-Asian discrimination, even as early as 2014/2015, it has always been greeted with silence – so I guess when it started happening last year, especially during the first lockdown, I was a bit used to unfortunately, ”she added.

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The findings come as the government is reviewing the online safety bill – aimed at tackling social media abuse – with a committee due to release its report on the bill by December 10.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports said: “Online hate has no place in our society and we are introducing tough new laws to force companies to do more and crack down. .

“Under our online safety bill, social media companies will face huge fines if they fail to fulfill their duty of care to protect UK users from this heinous abuse.

“But nothing is stopping social media companies from going faster now and we urge them to step up and do whatever they can. ”

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