08 July 2022

U.S. Anti-Asian Tweets

Welcome back. Forgive my gloom, but it’s getting hard to keep up with the hate in America.

Citing a report on 2021 hate crime data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, an NBC News article identified Black Americans as the most targeted group in most cities, Jews in New York, gay men in Chicago, and the most hate crimes of any U.S. city this century in Los Angeles.

The focus of that NBC News article was anti-Asian hate crimes, which jumped 339% in 2021 compared to 2020, when New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities had record numbers.

Members of K-pop band BTS visit White House to film an anti-Asian hate video with President Biden and address the topic with the press, 31 May 2022 (The White House/Adam Schultz photo from www.teenvogue.com/story/bts-white-house-visit-2022).
Analyzing Anti-Asian Hate in the U.S.
The anti-Asian hate incidents arising from the messaging that blamed COVID-19 on China led a team of researchers affiliated with Utah and Arizona State universities to examine anti-Asian hate in the U.S.

Approaching the study as a first step toward understanding whether racist trends on social media give rise to harm in the real world, their analyses relied on tweets.

The researchers purchased 4,234,694 geolocated tweets from Twitter, then searched the dataset for tweets that were located in the contiguous U.S.; written in English; sent in the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, November 2019 to May 2020; and had keywords reflecting COVID-19.

They classified the resulting 3,274,614 tweets into hateful or non-hateful based on the presence of additional keywords related to anti-Asian hate (e.g., kungflu).

Temporal Analysis of Hateful Tweets
From November 2019 to May 2020 the number of daily hateful tweets was very low until January 2020, when they began to surge, culminating in the first of two spikes.

The first spike occurred when COVID-19 was initially reported in the U.S. The second spike occurred in mid-March, when former President Trump began tweeting about the “Wuhan flu” and “Chinese virus.”

Anti-Asian COVID-related tweets, Nov. 2019-May 2020; red line is total number of daily tweets in study’s dataset; blue line is percentage of tweets that express hateful sentiment (graphic by Alexander Hohl from ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306653).
In time, the number of anti-Asian tweets fell, yet it remained higher than before the pandemic.

Spatial Analysis of Hateful Tweets
The researchers plotted the anti-Asian hateful tweet locations on a U.S. map. Although the tweets were scattered across the U.S., there were 15 geographic clusters where the number of tweets were statistically higher than expected based on the underlying population. (The strongest cluster was in Ross County, Ohio, where the proportion of hateful tweets was about 300 times higher than the rest of the country.)

Along with mapping the hateful tweets and clusters, the researchers also calculated what they labeled the relative risk for every U.S. county. This statistic was the ratio of the number of hateful tweets sent inside a county to the number of hateful tweets sent outside the county.

 Spatiotemporal distribution of continental U.S. hateful tweets against Asians and Asian Americans, highlighting 15 clusters and counties’ “relative risk,” defined as ratio of hateful tweets sent inside a county versus outside (from attheu.utah.edu/facultystaff/anti-asian-hate-tweets-during-covid-19/).
Wrap Up
The researchers plan to continue their analyses, seeking to identify demographic and socioeconomic factors that explain cluster locations and to determine if the mapping can predict where racists attacks are most likely to occur.

The maps might thus contribute to informing decision-makers in public health and safety when allocating resources for place-based preparedness and response to pandemic-induced racism. That would be a good thing.

Thanks for stopping by.

NBC News article on anti-Asian hate crimes: www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/anti-asian-hate-crimes-increased-339-percent-nationwide-last-year-repo-rcna14282
Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University, San Bernardino: www.csusb.edu/hate-and-extremism-center
Study of anti-Asian tweets in American Journal of Public Health: ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306653
Articles on study on EurekAlert! website and University of Utah Communications:

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