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Sinophobia on Western Social Media During Early COVID-19

With Yongjun Zhang, Stony Brook University

Discussant: Zhifan Luo, Concordia University

Chair: Cary Wu, York University

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global surge in Sinophobia. This talk introduces two unique datasets that we collected to study how different communities reacted to COVID-19 on Twitter during the early pandemic. First, I show that Sinophobia or hate speech targeting Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in online English communities was ubiquitous by mining over 68 million English Tweets we compiled using relevant keywords. This multiplex anti-AAPI Hate Speech data consisted of four aspects including COVID-specific hate, anti-Chinese politics, general AAPI hate, and counter hate. Second, I show that Sinophobia was also popular in Chinese language communities on Twitter by mining over 25 million Chinese tweets mentioning any Chinese characters related to China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chinese, and Asians after the COVID-19 outbreak. I show that the majority of these tweets were negative toward China, and they were targeting the Chinese government and CCP.  Both datasets are available to scholars, and we call for more collaborative research to study the causes, consequences, and patterns of anti-Asian/Chinese sentiments online.

Yongjun Zhang is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at Stony Brook University. His main research interests include computational social science, political sociology, organizational studies, and demography. His current projects combine big data with computational, statistical, and network methods to study mobility, segregation, and polarization in the US. and across the globe. His work has appeared in various journals such as American Journal of Sociology, Demography, Scientific Reports, and Nature Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. He teaches research methods in sociology and introduction to advanced computational social science courses at Stony Brook.

Attendees can register at this link.

This event is presented by the York Centre for Asian Research.


Feb 09 2024


1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


York Centre for Asian Research
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