Former President Donald Trump’s tweet that used #Chinesevirus on March 16, 2020 ignited a storm of racist hashtags, a new study found. Use of #Chinesevirus rose to 8,351 percent what it was before he did in the week following his tweet, and those who employed it were far more likely to employ anti-Asian hashtags than those who used #covid19, use of which only rose 379 percent in the same week, researchers at the University of California San Francisco determined. Yulin Hswen, a UCSF professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, said: “There were a lot of arguments that ‘Chinese virus’ was a scientific term and was no different than COVID-19. But in fact, you see a large difference.” Trump’s tweet preceded a year in which anti-Asian sentiment both online and in the physical world exploded, with incidents of racist harassment on the rise across the country, most recently in a shooting at Atlanta massage parlors that killed six Asian women.
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