How can we stop the hate speech towards Asian on social media?

Anti-Asian During Pandemic in Australia

According to Chinese Australian Forum, the rising anti-Chinese sentiment brought on by the coronavirus pandemic poses a serious threat to Australia’s national unity. These concerns are backed by the latest data from the Australian Human Rights Commission, which showed one in four people who lodged racial discrimination complaints in the past two months say they were targeted due to COVID-19 (Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia, 2020). The issue was also discussed by several scholars, and concluded that this assault not only threatened the physical safety of the Asians in Australia, but can lead to serious mental problems (Kamp, Denson, Sharples, & Atie, 2022).

What is Hate Speech?

Hate speech, as defined by the United Nations, pertains to derogatory dialogue that singles out an individual or a group on the basis of intrinsic qualities (e.g., race, religion, or gender) and has the potential to disrupt social harmony (United Nation, n.d.). Hate speech, often characterized by its offensive, disagreeable, or incendiary nature, can take several forms, such as verbal expressions, visual representations, or written messages. It can manifest in symbolic gestures, internet discussions, printed materials, public speeches, or written documents. The challenge of developing a widely recognized definition of hate speech arises from its subjective character, as what one person perceives as venomous may not be viewed as such by another. Furthermore, the definition of the term is further complicated by the unique conditions in which it occurs, the underlying reasons that drive it, and the impact it has on certain persons or groups. During the pandemic, much hate speech spread online, and, of course, some physical conflicts had happened, but the online platform provided a place to gather those netizens to express their anger and unsatisfaction, and to attack the Asians, blaming for the Covid-19.

(Tan, 2020)

The picture above was captured by a camera on road, where two Asian-Australians were stopped by white couples, and were accused to bring pandemic to Australia. The phrase ‘You Chinese virus spreader’ was used, and that displayed how much misunderstanding and ignorance the attacker could be (Tan, Ruppanner, & Lee, 2021).

Why Online Hate Speech Matters?

In contrast to traditional media, online hate speech may be created and circulated quickly, cheaply, and surreptitiously. It has the ability to reach a large global audience in a single instance (Waltman & Haas, 2011). A relative permanence is another concern about unpleasant information on the internet; it has the ability to reemerge and gain appeal over time.

It is vital to identify and monitor hate speech on various internet forums and communities in order to develop effective counter-measures. Nonetheless, efforts are frequently hampered by the technological limits of automated monitoring systems, the complicated nature of internet businesses, and the scope of the problem.

Meanwhile, algorithms built by online companies have helped to weaponize social media in order to disseminate violent and divisive narratives (Donovan & Boyd, 2021). This has highlighted the stigma endured by marginalized communities while also exposing the vulnerabilities of democracies around the world. Concerns have been made about online gamers’ accountability and participation in harmful physical surroundings, and they have come under increased scrutiny. Some states have imposed censorship and restrictions on free expression, raising worries about Internet service providers’ ability to monitor and remove content deemed illegal.

Online hate speech has the potential to perpetuate and exacerbate prejudice and antagonism toward others, particularly during a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 outbreak. The spread of false information, discriminatory views, and abusive language directed at people of Asian descent may have a negative impact on their psychological and emotional health (Croucher, Nguyen, & Rahmani, 2020). Furthermore, the availability of internet hate speech can create a hostile and inhospitable environment for Asian groups, causing increased feelings of dread, seclusion, and vulnerability.

Studies have shown a clear correlation between hate speech on the internet and violent crime in the real world (Grizzle, Tornero, & Manuel, 2016). Online hate speech and insulting language have the potential to legitimize and promote discriminatory attitudes and behaviors, leading to violent crimes and acts of hostility against persons of Asian descent. Given the link between an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents in Australia and this problem, it is critical to address the root cause of online hate speech.


Flew’s research raises concerns that call for a rethinking of the link between platformized internets and digital platforms, as well as communication policy, governance, and regulation (Flew, 2021). Flew supports his claim that communications policy may be divided into three separate categories—law, policy, and regulation—by elaborating on the differences in definition between communication policy and media policy (Flew, 2021). These differences are critical in determining the core of the issue at hand and developing an effective solution.

In this case, we may attempt to solve the issue from law, policy, and regulation perspectives. A number of countries have established laws specifically prohibiting hate speech, although their methods and scope may vary. Some states, for example, have enacted comprehensive anti-discrimination law that includes online activity, whilst others have added specific hate speech-related sections to their criminal codes (Bello, 2023).

Australia then can learn from some examples. International treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provide a framework for addressing hate speech while protecting the right to free expression (Alkiviadou, 2018). In addition, the UN and regional human rights groups have issued rules and proposals for avoiding hate speech. These underline the need of a fair approach that respects free expression while prohibiting incitement to hate, discrimination, or violence (Alkiviadou, 2018).

Along with legal perspective, policy efforts are critical in combatting hate speech online. To combat the spread of hate speech, governments, international organizations, and civil society groups have implemented a variety of policies that promote digital literacy, stimulate the production of counter-narratives, and collaborate with online platforms (Gagliardone, Gal, Alves, & Martinez, 2015). Initiatives aiming at increasing digital literacy seek to give individuals with the skills they need to critically evaluate online content and interact in an inclusive and respectful way. These efforts, which promote responsible digital citizenship and give individuals with tools to recognize and combat hate speech, often target educational institutions, neighbourhood groups, and online forums.

Furthermore, developing counter-narratives is an important component of political efforts to combat hate speech online. Decision-makers and interested parties may reduce the effect of hate speech and promote social cohesion by sharing uplifting and welcoming tales. This technique often involves collaborating with affected groups, influencers, and content creators to generate and disseminate messages that challenge prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes.

As for regulatory tools, the country can establish content policies to restrict and limit hate speech once detected, and restrain the same users and IPs entering certain platforms. Meanwhile, the registration can request a real identity, which requires all online users to register with real identity, otherwise, the users are not allowed to post or comment. Lastly, more regulations on media maybe needed to limit the hate, to spread the mutual understanding and harmony. Punish those who attempt to violate the regulations, and sabotage the relationship between races. Facebook attempted to regulate hate speech via detecting both languages in classifiers and its global community, and blended into the local context to accurately capture the hate speech  (Sinpeng, Martin, Gelber, & Shields, 2021).

There are also technological tools, including using AI filters, which uses AI and database to detect any hate speech on social media, and immediately report to the operations to ban or delete such content. The banning system can also be built upon the AI, as the hate related words, phrases would not appear or able to display on the social media.

The lasting effect must also count on the cultural tools, which can encourage more multicultural and multi-race media contents to be displayed, such as movies, videos, and artwork that show the harmony of people living together. Meanwhile, the authorities can enhance mutual understanding by release more favourable contents and news, which allow audiences to better know about other ethnic groups.

What can we learn from the case?

To begin, the rise of hate speech on the internet causes significant challenges for individuals, communities, and politicians. To address this issue, a multifaceted approach will be required, including legislative, policy, and regulatory activities. It is critical to maintain the right to free expression, encourage digital literacy and counter-narratives, and develop legal frameworks that can adapt to new communication patterns while navigating the complexities of hate speech laws (de Latour, Perger, Salag, Tocchi, & Otero, 2017).

In the context of Australia’s anti-Asian hate pandemic, the necessity of government action and regulatory measures in addressing online hate speech cannot be emphasized more. Strong enforcement mechanisms, along with legislation that specifically targets hate speech and online harassment, may serve as a deterrent and give restitution to people who have been hurt by such destructive activity. Furthermore, forming partnerships between political authorities, law enforcement agencies, and community-based organizations may allow a comprehensive and well-coordinated approach to combat hate speech on the internet and the detrimental consequences it has.

These entities have a significant effect on the debate and content that circulates on social media and internet platforms. As a result, they play an important role in preventing hate speech from spreading online. To prevent hate speech from spreading, online platforms must actively monitor and delete hazardous and hateful material, as well as implement strong content moderation standards and AI-powered detection systems. Furthermore, promoting constructive, inclusive debate and developing a culture of digital civility may mitigate the detrimental consequences of online hate speech on underrepresented communities.

Is the impact of research being studied on an Australian or global scale?

(Kaur, 2021)

Apparently, the anti-Asian hate is a global issue, and the research has been studied on both Australian and global scale. The picture above showed how China town in the US protected against anti-Asian hate during pandemic (Kaur, 2021). Beyond isolated incidences of discrimination and violence, the pandemic’s anti-Asian sentiment has had far-reaching social, psychological, and economic consequences throughout the globe. Because to pervasive anti-Asian discrimination, Asian communities have experienced greater trauma, fear, and anxiety, reduced their sense of safety and belonged. Furthermore, the financial health of several Asian-owned businesses has been jeopardized as a consequence of falling consumer support and intentional vandalism, exacerbating the financial stress caused by the pandemic. Anti-Asian animosity has also contributed to the breakdown of intergroup contacts and social cohesion by instilling distrust and division in multicultural communities, undermining attempts to foster resilience and solidarity in the face of shared challenges.

In the battle against anti-Asian prejudice, the “Stop AAPI Hate” campaign has proved to be an effective way for raising awareness and gathering support. Similar anti-Asian animosity tendencies have been seen across Europe, sparking discussions about the link between racism, immigration, and public health. The pandemic has sparked reflection and calls for more inclusion and social justice across Asia, highlighting discriminatory practices and policies that target minority populations.

Personal Reflection:

As an Asian student in Australia, I myself had several experiences in Asian hate related to pandemic, but luckily, I was not serious targeted and hurt, and escaped from the escalating conflicts. I understand how difficult it can be to live with such tension and terror, and it was not meant to be a way to welcome foreign visitors, students, businessman, and the foreign ethnics who decided to immigrate to this great country. Therefore, I wish the media and government can actually do something to aid the minorities in this country.

Reference List:

Alkiviadou, N. (2018). The legal regulation of hate speech: The international and European frameworks. Politička misao, 203-229.

Bello, B. (2023). Tackling online hate speech from a European perspective: Potentials and challenges of inter-legality. Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 1-23.

Croucher, S., Nguyen, T., & Rahmani, D. (2020). Prejudice toward Asian Americans in the COVID-19 pandemic: The effects of social media use in the United States. Frontiers in Communication.

de Latour, A., Perger, N., Salag, R., Tocchi, C., & Otero, P. (2017). We can!: Taking Action against Hate Speech through Counter and Alternative Narratives (revised edition). Council of Europe.

Donovan, J., & Boyd, D. (2021). Stop the presses? Moving from strategic silence to strategic amplification in a networked media ecosystem. American Behavioral Scientist, 333-350.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia. (2020). Chinese Australians request for solidarity due to rise in racial abuse amidst COVID-19 crisis. Retrieved from Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia:

Flew, T. (2021). Regulating platforms. Polity Press, 91-96.

Gagliardone, I., Gal, D., Alves, T., & Martinez, G. (2015). Countering online hate speech. Unesco Publishing.

Grizzle, A., Tornero, J., & Manuel, J. (2016). Media and information literacy against online hate, radical, and extremist content. Media and information literacy: Reinforcing human rights, countering radicalization and extremism.

Kamp, A., Denson, N., Sharples, R., & Atie, R. (2022). Asian Australians’ experiences of online racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social sciences.

Kaur, H. (2021, 2 13). As attacks against Asian Americans spike, advocates call for action to protect communities. Retrieved from CNN:

Sinpeng, A., Martin, F. R., Gelber, K., & Shields, K. (2021). Facebook: Regulating Hate Speech in the Asia Pacific. Department of Media and Communications, The University of Sydney.

Tan, S. (2020, 5 30). ‘You Chinese virus spreader’: after coronavirus, Australia has an anti-Asian racism outbreak to deal with. Retrieved from South China Morning Post:

Tan, X., Ruppanner, L., & Lee, R. (2021, 3 30). Taking the measure of. Retrieved from The Interpreter:

United Nation. (n.d.). What is hate speech? Retrieved from United Nation:

Waltman, M., & Haas, J. (2011). The communication of hate. Peter Lang.

Picture Reference List:

Kaur, H. (2021, 2 13). As attacks against Asian Americans spike, advocates call for action to protect communities. Retrieved from CNN:

Tan, S. (2020, 5 30). ‘You Chinese virus spreader’: after coronavirus, Australia has an anti-Asian racism outbreak to deal with. Retrieved from South China Morning Post:

Tan, X., Ruppanner, L., & Lee, R. (2021, 3 30). Taking the measure of. Retrieved from The Interpreter:

Online hate speech – bik portal – bik community. BIK Portal. (n.d.).

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply