Asian-Americans experienced the largest single rise in severe online hate and harassment year-over-year in comparison to other groups, with 17 percent having experienced sexual harassment, stalking, physical threats, swatting, doxing or sustained harassment this year compared to 11 percent last year, according to a new survey released today by ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). Fully half (50 percent) of Asian-American respondents who were harassed reported that the harassment was because of their race or ethnicity.
The nationally representative survey also found a sharp rise in online harassment of African-Americans based on their race, from 42 percent attributing their harassment to their race last year to 59 percent in this year’s survey. This follows a year where the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many other Black individuals by police officers sparked a wave of massive racial justice protests that drew at least 15 million Americans — perhaps the largest protest movement ever in U.S. history.
The findings come in a year when technology companies have been attempting to step up enforcement on their platforms to tamp down online hate and harassment by instituting new policies and taking action against bad actors. American adults who were harassed indicated they experienced the most harassment on Facebook (75 percent), followed by Twitter (24 percent), Instagram (24 percent) and YouTube (21 percent).
“This survey shows that even as technology companies insist that they are taking unprecedented steps to moderate hateful content on their social media platforms, the user experience hasn’t changed all that much. Americans of many different backgrounds continue to experience online hate and harassment at levels that are totally unacceptable,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “And not surprisingly, after a year where national figures including the president himself routinely scapegoated China and Chinese people for spreading the coronavirus, Asian-Americans experienced heightened levels of harassment online, just as they did offline.”
Overall, 41 percent of Americans reported having experienced some form of online hate and harassment in this year’s survey. The survey found that 33 percent of respondents attributed their harassment to an identity characteristic, which was defined as their sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, gender identity, or disability. Twenty-eight percent of respondents who were harassed reported being targeted because of their race or ethnicity.
The overwhelming majority of those polled – 81 percent of Americans – agreed with the statement that social media platforms should do more to combat online hate. Furthermore, 77 percent of Americans think laws need to be made to hold social media platforms accountable for recommending users join extremist groups.