Shift of User Attitudes about Anti-Asian Hate on Reddit Before and During COVID-19

Lydia Manikonda, Mee Young Um, Rui Fan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Content Warning: This paper shows examples of explicit and offensive language that might be triggering. The main goal of this paper is to investigate the temporal shifts of attitudes about racism towards Asians using online social media posts. An increase in race-related crimes towards Asian communities during COVID-19 is the prime motivation of the work presented in this paper. Towards this goal, social media data from Reddit that were shared between January 2018 and December 2021 are utilized to examine the user attitudes towards anti-Asian hate along with the temporal shifts in those attitudes. Using natural language processing techniques, this study conducts a quantitative investigation on how linguistic emotions are expressed in user posts as well as the engagement received by such posts. Our data suggest that anti-Asian hate crimes or incidents have been discussed long before COVID-19, but it is during the pandemic when we noticed a sharp increase in the number of posts about this topic. Psycholinguistic emotions highlight the surge of posts from users sharing about their personal experiences during the pandemic. Topics extracted show the shift of discussions from relating anti-Asian hate crimes to different types of phobias to issues that are more related to personal encounters or private lives/opinions of users during COVID-19. Our work used "score"as a metric to measure online support, which shows an increase of support to users and an increased agreement with the posts the users are sharing on Reddit during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWebSci 2022 - Proceedings of the 14th ACM Web Science Conference
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages364-369
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781450391917
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 26 2022
Event14th ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci 2022 - Virtual, Online, Spain
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series

Conference

Conference14th ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci 2022
Country/TerritorySpain
CityVirtual, Online
Period6/26/226/29/22

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Reddit
  • anti-Asian hate
  • text analysis
  • user attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software

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