Not just a joke: We scoured TikTok for anti-Asian humor during the pandemic, and found too many disappointing memes
Credit: Viviana Rishe/Unsplash

We live in deeply unequal societies where certain groups, such as racial and sexual minorities, continue to experience structural oppression. Humor targeted at these groups can cause individual harm through its cumulative effects, and contribute to broader social harms too.

Much of our social interaction today takes place online. So it makes sense that significant attention is paid to issues such as online hate speech, harassment and misinformation.

However, a more challenging problem is the conduct of users who aren’t necessarily trying to harm others, but still participate online in ways that can do so. For example, TikTok users have participated in viral parody challenges that trivialize police brutality, domestic violence and even the Holocaust.

The COVID-19 health crisis pushed digital platforms to curb the spread of misinformation, but it seems they did less to minimize anti-Asian content—despite signs the pandemic was being “racialised”.

In our research, we investigated how the “humorous” racist stereotyping of people of Asian descent emerged on TikTok during the pandemic, and how such behavior should be addressed.

TikTok and racial humor

TikTok has become hugely popular across generations. Its “use this sound” feature allows users to remix audio from other videos, making it a unique platform to study racist stereotyping.

For our research we collected TikTok videos posted from January to June in 2020, with the hashtag #coronavirus, and other hashtags relevant to our research (such as “#asian” and “#funny,” for example).

We also included videos tagged with keywords related to China (#china, #chinacoronavirus, #wuhan) and with #Australia, to potentially collect examples from within the country (which has a history of anti-Asian racism).

Once we removed duplicates, unavailable videos, and videos in a language other than English, we obtained a dataset of 639 TikTok videos. After closely analyzing these, we found 93 videos displayed examples of racist humor.

‘Yellow peril’ memes

Among the videos were “yellow peril” memes. These were about people or objects being “contaminated” with coronavirus by extension of their connection to China, or other Asian countries. The “yellow peril” trope dehumanizes people from Asian countries by posing them as a threat to Western countries.

Three types of “yellow peril” memes were noticed in our sample:

memes targeting people of Asian descent as being the cause of coronavirus spreadingmemes where people react in horror or disgust when they receive packages or goods from Chinamemes that blame the coronavirus on practices such as eating wild animals.

‘Digital yellowface’ parodies

We also found a form of “digital yellowface.” In these videos users applied the “use this sound” feature to parody Asian accents in English or say “Asian sounding words” by speaking gibberish, or words like “Subaru” (the Japanese car brand) in an exaggerated way.

Some users dramatized their face to further embody the offensive caricature they were trying to portray.

Scholars researching racist stereotyping online have warned that “certain dialects, vocal ranges, and vernacular are deemed noisy, improper, or hyperemotional by association with blackness.”

During COVID-19, non-Asian users appropriated “Asian sounds” on TikTok in a similar way. They portrayed people of Asian descent as irrational or overly emotional, reducing an entire racial group to a mere caricature.

What has TikTok done?

TikTok has enabled users to willingly or unwillingly contribute to racist discourse that dehumanized Chinese people, and other Asian people, over the course of the pandemic.

We are not claiming a direct causal link between this racist stereotyping and real-world violence. But research has shown attaching an illness to an historically marginalized group has immediate and longer-term negative social effects in societies.

Although TikTok joined the European Commission’s Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online in 2020, its policies still do not provide a detailed explanation of when humor can have the capacity to harm.

To improve the moderation of harmful humor, TikTok could modify its community guidelines and reporting processes to acknowledge the way humor targeted at historically-marginalized groups can have severe consequences.

This would be similar to Facebook’s expansion of its hate speech policy in 2020 to include harmful stereotypes (which came after the platform consulted with advocacy groups and experts).

TikTok’s moderation of racialized harmful humor doesn’t necessarily have to entail takedowns and user bans. There are several other remedies available. The platform could:

educate users by tagging or labeling dubious or potentially harmful contentreduce the visibility of content through algorithmic demotionrestricting engagement functionalities on “humorous” content that’s likely to cause harm.

One thing’s for sure: we can no longer excuse racism under the guise of humor. Beyond individuals, social media platforms have a responsibility to make sure they address racist humor, since it can and does cause real harm. Provided by The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Citation: Not just a joke: We scoured TikTok for anti-Asian humor during the pandemic, and found too many disappointing memes (2022, September 30) retrieved 30 September 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-scoured-tiktok-anti-asian-humor-pandemic.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

NEWS RELATED

The global Realme 10 Pro+ will be disappointing – downgrade spotted!

Realme introduced a bunch of Realme 10 series phones this month in China. Now, the company is preparing to bring the Realme 10 Pro 5G and Realme 10 Pro+ 5G to the Indian market. Other global markets will get these variants as well. According to rumors, and teasers, the phone ...

View more: The global Realme 10 Pro+ will be disappointing – downgrade spotted!

The evolution of Asia's mammals was dictated by ancient climate change and rising mountains, study reveals

Carrying traps in the Hengduan Mountains. Credit: Anderson Feijó. The idea that climate change and geological events can shape evolution isn’t a new one: anyone who’s heard of dinosaurs knows that a big change in the environment (like, say, a meteor hitting the Earth 66 million years ago and ...

View more: The evolution of Asia's mammals was dictated by ancient climate change and rising mountains, study reveals

Novel sex-determination mechanism revealed in mammals

Amami spiny rat. Credit: Asato Kuroiwa In mammals, the distinction between male and female at the chromosomal level is due to the X and Y chromosomes. Typically, females have two X chromosomes (XX) while males have an X and a Y chromosome (XY). The Sry gene on the Y ...

View more: Novel sex-determination mechanism revealed in mammals

Americans would rather harm their own political cause than help an opposing one, finds study

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain Both Democrats and Republicans would rather take away funding from their political party than give money to the other party, reveals a new University of California San Diego Rady School of Management study. The research also assesses people’s preferences regarding two other contentious issues—gun rights ...

View more: Americans would rather harm their own political cause than help an opposing one, finds study

Power to the people must include the people: Renewable energy solutions for off-grid communities

A man from the Alto Mentae community checks an experimental water wheel in April 2022 that was built by the community but did not end up working. Credit: Igor Cavallini Johansen The millions of people throughout the world living off the electrical grids have a starkly different idea of ...

View more: Power to the people must include the people: Renewable energy solutions for off-grid communities

An AI named Cicero can beat humans in Diplomacy, a complex alliance-building game. Here's why that's big news

Credit: Shutterstock In a rare piece of good news from Meta, artificial intelligence researchers at the company have just announced a scientific breakthrough. Their AI program named Cicero can now play the board game Diplomacy at a human level. Now, before you get too excited, Cicero isn’t playing at ...

View more: An AI named Cicero can beat humans in Diplomacy, a complex alliance-building game. Here's why that's big news

New Disney CEO calls ‘pure speculation’ a rumored Apple deal

Last week, Disney announced it would replace its then-CEO Bob Chapek with Bob Iger, his predecessor. A crazy rumor said Iger’s ultimate goal would be to sell the company, and Apple would be the perfect match. On his first day back to work, Bob Iger called “pure speculation” a ...

View more: New Disney CEO calls ‘pure speculation’ a rumored Apple deal

People With Depression Are Less Likely to Have Children

Summary: Men with depression are 33% less likely to have children, and depressed women are 15% less likely to have children than their peers who do not suffer from depression. Additionally, women are more likely to suffer symptoms of depression during their childbearing years. Source: University of Helsinki Women are ...

View more: People With Depression Are Less Likely to Have Children

Old Zero-Day Vulnerabilities Remain Unpatched on Samsung, Google Phones

Thinking Out of The Box! GIGABYTE Offers Stylish Motherboards And Graphics Cards. - IGN

iQOO 11 specs revealed ahead of December 2 launch

The world's biggest active volcano erupts after 38 years

Project Volterra Surfaces; An ARM Powered Microsoft Windows Dev Kit 2023

Beavers found to have lived in family clans in the Allgäu for more than 11 million years

Grab a Pack of Extra Apple AirTags Batteries for Under $10

Hydroacoustic signals help study impacts of underwater explosions off French coast

Mapping the future of micromotors

Science ahead of its time: 157-year-old Darwin manuscript made available online

Superbugs in the environment rarely transfer to humans, according to new study

The replication crisis: Researchers reveal a hidden universe of uncertainty

OTHER NEWS

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network