A recent survey published by the Anti-Defamation league – which is an anti-hate speech organization established in 1913, looked at online hate and harassment specifically on social media platforms. Its annual report, entitled ‘Online Hate and Harassment: The American Experience 2021’, found that despite the reported regulations from social media platforms and technology companies, the levels of online hate and harassment had not decreased.
The report, published on the Anti-Defamation League’s website, opened with a summary which outlined: ‘This is the third consecutive year ADL has conducted its nationally representative survey. Forty-one percent of Americans who responded to the survey said they had experienced online harassment in this year’s survey, comparable to the 44% reported in ADL’s 2020 “Online Hate and Harassment” report. Severe online harassment comprising sexual harassment, stalking, physical threats, swatting, doxing and sustained harassment also remained relatively constant compared to the prior year, experienced by 27% of respondents, not a significant change from the 28% reported in the previous survey.’
Notably, the survey found that Asian American saw the largest increase of online hate in 2020. The report outlined that ‘Asian-American respondents have experienced the largest single year-over-year rise in severe online harassment in comparison to other groups, with 17% reporting it this year compared to 11% last year.’
The Anti Defamation League’s (ADL) findings also sadly showed that LGBTQ groups hit a rate of 64% which was, for the third year, the highest rate of overall harassment compared to all other demographics. Jewish respondents experienced an increase of 33% to 36% when it came to online harassment.
Further, in a different category than the Asian American increase, African American’s experienced another horrifyingly large rise in race-based harassment –2019’s survey reported that 42% of African Americans experienced this kind of harassment, 2020 survey found 59% did. Forbes reported that the ‘ADL [identified] months of anti-racist protests sparked by the death of George Floyd as a driving factor, noting that derogatory posts against African Americans quadrupled on Facebook pages shortly after Floyd was died in police custody last May.’
The report also drew attention to the lack of trust people had in social media platforms when it came to online hate and harassment. It found that those who experienced physical threats online were less likely to report the abuse in comparison to the previous year. The report outlined:
‘41% of respondents who experienced a physical threat stated that the platform took no action on a threatening post, an increase from the 38% who had reported a similar lack of action the year before.
38% said they did not flag the threatening post to the platform, up from 33% the prior year.
Only 14% of those who experienced a physical threat said the platform deleted the threatening content, a significant drop from 22% the prior year.
Just 17% of those who experienced a physical threat to the platform stated that the platform blocked the perpetrator who posted the content, a sharp decrease from the prior year’s 28%.’
The ADL added: ‘There was a relatively small drop in perceived religion-based harassment reported by Muslim respondents from 61% last year to 57% this year. Likewise, Asian-American respondents reported a relatively small decrease in online race-based harassment this year (50% from 55%). Regardless, these levels of harassment remain disturbingly high.’
The report comes just as the Asian American community and America faced another horrifying act of terrorism, with the murders of six Asian women at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia. It has been classed as yet another Anti-Asian hate crime, with President Joe Biden stating: “vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.”
It has sparked a wave of support on social media for the Asian community, with many people drawing much-needed attention to the prejudices, hate, racism and harassment Asian’s in America have to face every day.
The rise in targeted harassment and hate towards the Asian-American community, can also be attributed to hateful bias surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Forbes wrote that the ADL researchers ‘identified former President Donald Trump as a contributing factor to the rise in online hate and harassment, noting the center saw an 85% increase in anti-Asian sentiment on Twitter after Trump announced he had contracted Covid-19, which he repeatedly referred to as the “China virus,” the “China plague” or “kung flu.”
“The spike in physical violence against Asian Americans across the nation was whipped up in large part by bigotry and conspiracy theories that grew online, fanned by national leaders, including former President Trump’s incendiary rhetoric,” the report read.’