Within the past fifteen years, whilst social media platforms have become an increasingly pervasive habitancy in people’s lives across the world. Hate speech, racism and varied forms of bigotry have also been on the rise within the same timeframe. Online space is on the raise with unstoppable momentum just like another society of the world everyone is connected, distance and time are no longer an obstacle. However, there is some kind of discrimination in every society.

Race in online spaces

       Identity is a socially and historically constructed concept. We acknowledge about our own identity and the identity of others through interactions with family, friends, institutions, media and other connections in daily life.

Picture: http://www.imperialcrs.com/blog/2015/05/3-limitations-of-databases-for-recruitment/

People use social networks as a place to communicate with other same race about similarities of racial and cultural identity, and further check their identities through discourses about shared experiences. Social networks, blogging sites, and shared internet spaces provide the opportunity for users to build bigger and better cultural networks than they might have in offline spaces.

Why are we racist?

       Being racist is the expression of discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or believing that a particular race is superior to another. Racist just like an elephant in a room-a conspicuous problem but nobody would talk about it.

Picture: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rodgerdeanduncan/2014/10/14/is-there-an-elephant-in-the-room-name-it-and-tame-it/#550118f734dd

Most people in society think that racism is something abstract and not a crucial issue.

According to Mahzarin Banaji, Ph.D. from Department of Psychology at Harvard University conducted a research by using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging or fMRI on participants. The research suggest that over 75 percents of Whites and Asians have constant bias on racial meaning how this bias effects on they identified the world around them and the fMRI of those 75 percents have a stronger electrical response in the brain area called amygdala – responsible for processing emotional stimuli and eliciting a fearful or anxious mental state or the gut-feeling. In this case, their welfare is being threatened hence tend to become more rooted in their behaviour, and additionally buoy their national worldviews since those national worldviews make them feel at ease.

Source: Page 944, Volume 15, Nature Neuroscience; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228070396_The_neuroscience_of_race

Another reason suggested by  Dr.David Williams, professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University – We unconsciously did it, he said that “they often treat that person differently and honestly don’t even realize it”. He also added, “problem for our society is that the level of negative stereotypes is very high.”

Racism in Thai social media: Dunkin’ donut ads

Picture: Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook

Dunkin donut had made Thai advertisement featuring a woman in ‘blackface’ make up with the slogan “break all rules of deliciousness” to promote charcoal donut. Human rights group criticized it as “bizarre and racist” and human right watch criticized that Dunkin’ donuts use racist images to sell donuts. Dunkin’ Donuts apologized and said that they are working with their franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign. Ceo of Dunkin’ donuts ignore criticism as “paranoid American thinking”.

Citra ads

Picture: Citra TVC

The advertisement of Citra which is a skin-whitening cream compared between skin tone and education levels. Many believed the implication be that darker-skinned students are less intelligent than their lighter-skinned colleagues in a country where the fairer skin has long been equated with higher class. An advertisement appeared to offer university scholarships to students with fairer skin. Although the advert was withdrawn last week, the scholarship competition still stands. Users in social media such as pantip.com criticize Unilever company about this advert. “Now, you can get a scholarship because of white skin, not because of good studying, not if you are poor and dark,” said one post on the well-known Thai online comment website pantip.com. Unilever Thai trading never intended “to suggest racial discrimination” and apologised for “any misunderstandings regarding the campaign”.

Racism in US social media

Picture:From Twitter @Damonheraldsun regrading the cartoon by Mark Knight which Damon Johnston don’t think that it is racist nor sexist.

The Melbourne-based newspaper has published a racist cartoon of multiple Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams by Mark Knight on the front page.

The cartoon racist Serena Williams by depicting Williams was throwing a temper tantrum. Naomi Osaka, is depicted as a skinny blonde woman, to whom the umpire is saying: “Can’t you just let her win?” which illustrated a contrast to Naomi Osaka’s appearance who won the final and a mixed-race Haitian and Japanese but Knight drew her nearly like a white woman. So in this case, It isn’t only racism and sexism against Serena William but also against Naomi Osaka. There are so many criticisms on Knight’s work like J.K. Rowling as follow: “Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second greatest sportswoman faceless into a faceless prop.”

Picture: From Twitter @jk_rowling regrading Mark Knight racist and sexist against Serena Williams

Photograph of Naomi Osaka :http://www.wtatennis.com/news/champions-corner-naomi-osaka-dominates-california-desert

Poll finds that at least one-quarter of Asian Americans report being personally discriminated against in the workplace and housing

Infographic: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/poll-asian-americans-discrimination/

Cases from online media

Because of the racist who already have low self-esteem or being racist from the online world or even in real life, it will cause such actions.

Catfish identity

As an informal meaning, it means someone who pretends on social media to be someone different, in order to trick or attract other people.

Eric Vanman, Senior Lecturer in Psychology from the University of Queensland gives the meaning of catfish as “A catfish is someone who uses false information to cultivate a persona online that does not represent their true identity. This commonly involves using stolen or edited photos, usually taken from an unwitting third party.”

Catfish plays an important role in online dating…

All of the online dating applications and websites share the same goal which is to connect people for the purpose of meeting and dating.

Self-description is a must; gender, age, ethnicity, height, weight, education, preferred gender and distance the dating systems select what is the intersection between you and another user the algorithm will suggest them to the user through matching algorithms.

This is when catfish happened he or she who might have a low self-esteem or want to abduct your money build some ‘particular’ profile for their target audiences.

For the more distinct idea of catfish here is the link to the video:

Online case (Based on True Story)

Hiding their race and ethnicity

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

This cartoon describes an online Asian influencer who was questioned by the online user on Instagram whether her ethnicity and race is. She covered her race and ethnicity as reply those comment that ‘It’s not important to reveal my ethnicity.’ After that, there is someone who revealed her true ethnicity.

Psychological effects of Racial discrimination  

Racialized sexual discrimination(RSD) from online dating apps and psychological effects studied by  Ryan Wade, professor of social work at the University of Illinois.

Picture: http://www.blogsport.info/cred/r/race-discrimination-in-the-workplace.html

Racialized sexual discrimination is the sexual rejection of racial minority in online spaces which categorized by social-culture or racial stereotypes such as perceiving Black men as hypersexual or Asian men as submissive sex partners.
There are two studies investigating on RSD included a nationally representative sample of about 2,000 black gay or bisexual men. The first study, focusing on groups of gay or bisexual men of color shared their experiences with RSD. Then, secondly, using those experiences calculated in the sociodemographic and psychosocial measure.

RSD occur in various form, On focus groups, display from 4 dominant forms which are racialized exclusion, rejection, degradation and erotic objectification. For example, people comment on other’s profile picture that they are “not interested in” people from a certain race or “I’m only into other white people.”

Racial rejection happens during interaction such as users clearly rejected a person with racial and ethnic background or ignoring the message that the sender assumes the rejection based upon their race and ethnicity.   

Degradation happens when someone comments hostile or denigrating on a certain racial or ethnic background either on the user profile, private message.

Erotic objectification happens when people have a specific desirable physical characteristic toward a particular race or ethnicity.

Based on the studies, Cultural beauty standard causes the significant increase in depressive symptomatology and reduction in self-worth found while Black men being rejected by someone in their own race which prefer white men.

Anonymity in online makes people write overtly hostile things freely on the profile about their race. This behavior will barely happen if you meet them in the real world.

The websites or apps addressing this type of discrimination now

“Kindr” an initiative which aimed at addressing many of the stigmas that exist in the LGBT community such as discriminating against people with HIV.

Source: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-racial-discrimination-impact-users-online.html

Current Campaign about racism


  • Ensure more individuals/ people recognize that racism is unacceptable in our community
  • Give more people/ individuals the tools & resources to take practical action against racism
  • Empower individuals & organisations to prevent & respond effectively to racism.