Many of those who usually engage in online trolling are now, like everyone else, stuck at home and spending much of their time online. COVID-19 related trolling has been added to their repertoire. This account is a particularly obvious case of trolling as it seeks to pick fights with different users and communities.
In this briefing we look at one troll on Twitter. This account is Australian and uses the pseudonym “William the Conqueror Returned”. The account was created in January 2019 and had made 9591 tweets. The briefing is in two parts, the first looking at anti-Asian racism related to Coronavirus, and the second looking at other forms of online hate from the same account.
In this first example is a tweet directed at 9 News Australia. It makes an entirely unsupported claim that “Asians are spitting in our food supply all over the place”. The Tweet also speaks about “appeasing anti-white owners”.
The second part specifically says “anti-white” rather than “anti-Australian”, suggesting the nationalist view of Australia in the previous tweet we discussed is actually a white nationalist view. Twitter thankfully deleted this tweets before we published this briefing.
Another Tweet writes “God, protect us all from the Chinese Diversity Flu, created in China and spread by Chinese people. Bring the establishment traitors who kept our borders open for decades to justice, and allow us to bring about the nationalistic world order you ordained for us. Amen.”
The tweet is anti-multicultural and accuses Chinese people of spreading COVID-19. It also has elements of extremist nationalism while calling government traitors. This is the language of white nationalism, the sort of extremism found in the ideology of the Christchurch attacker and which ASIO recently warned is an increased threat.
Another tweet from the same user calls on the “media and political classes” to apologise to Pauline Hanson for calling her comments about an “Asian Invasion” racist. He suggests an apology is deserved because “China is taking over our country and causing pandemics”.
Other forms of hate
The same user also promotes white nationalism, attacks atheism, the gay community, the political left and women.
This next set of tweets is promoting white nationalism and specifically the white genocide conspiracy theory. This is a conspiracy theory promoted in the manifesto of the Christchurch attack in 2019. The top (and sarcastically intended) first Tweet refers to people as “Goys” language coming from the Alt-Right and /pol/ community. The tweet directly speaks about “ethnic replacement”. The tweet he replies to saying there is no “white race” is entirely correct as the very concept of “race” is in reality a social construct.
The next three tweets engage in homophobic debate. One speaks about “abomination”, another about “vile perversion” and the third calls an argument for accepting homosexuality the “dumbest thing you’ve read this year”.
This next tweet promotes both homophobia and misogyny. It does by speaking out against efforts to tackle homophobia and misogyny by saying the one is objecting to people not accepting a “perversion” and the other is an objection to women not taking on their “natural role”.
In a much earlier tweet they wrote “Letting women vote was arguably the dumbest thing the West ever did.”
This is clearly an account the focuses on trolling. It is a far-right account that has taken up a mix of Christian Right ideology and white supremacist ideology. COVID-19, for this account, is just an excuse to troll the media and other Twitter users with anti-Asian racism.
This briefing has been prepared by Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute, and Osiris Parikh, OHPI Analyst.
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The Online Hate Prevention Institute is a Registered Charity that tackles all forms of online hate. You can support our work by making a donation at https://ohpi.org.au/donate/. You can also join us on Facebook, or join our mailing list.
This article is part of our special focus on Coronavirus. For the month of April, the Online Hate Prevention Institute is running a campaign Tackling Online Islamophobia. We are also currently running a fundraiser to expand our May 2020 campaign to stop online Misogyny. The full plan for our campaigns in 2020 can be seen here.