The spate of attacks on Asians in recent months is the fault of memes shared on Telegram and 4chan even though there’s no evidence proving that’s the case, so says the New York Times.
How Anti-Asian Activity Online Set the Stage for Real-World Violence
On platforms such as Telegram and 4chan, racist memes and posts about Asian-Americans have created fear and dehumanization.
By Davey Alba
In January, a new group popped up on the messaging app Telegram, named after an Asian slur.
Hundreds of people quickly joined. Many members soon began posting caricatures of Asians with exaggerated facial features, memes of Asian people eating dog meat and images of American soldiers inflicting violence during the Vietnam War.
This week, after a gunman killed eight people — including six women of Asian descent — at massage parlors in and near Atlanta, the Telegram channel linked to a poll that asked, “Appalled by the recent attacks on Asians?” The top answer, with 84 percent of the vote, was that the violence was “justified retaliation for Covid.”
The Telegram group was a sign of how anti-Asian sentiment has flared up in corners of the internet, amplifying racist and xenophobic tropes just as attacks against Asian-Americans have surged. On messaging apps like Telegram and on internet forums like 4chan, anti-Asian groups and discussion threads have been increasingly active since November, especially on far-right message boards such as The Donald, researchers said.
The activity follows a rise in anti-Asian misinformation last spring after the coronavirus, which first emerged in China, began spreading around the world. On Facebook and Twitter, people blamed the pandemic on China, with users posting hashtags such as #gobacktochina and #makethecommiechinesepay. Those hashtags spiked when former President Donald J. Trump last year called Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu.”
A search of Twitter for the hashtag #makethecommiechinesepay shows not one single result before this article came out.