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“The words are like a virus,” said Joel Finkelstein, director of the Network Contagion Research Institute, a New Jersey-based nonprofit group that tracks hate speech online.

It also found less pronounced rises in hostile references to China and Chinese people on Twitter.

One passenger said to another that the student was a “Chinese virus,” said Zhang, a computer scientist at the Helmholtz Center for Information Security, in Saarbrücken, Germany.

Linvill, an assistant professor of communication, said the use was particularly prominent among accounts that regularly support Trump on Twitter.

The president has also stopped using “Chinese Virus” on social media and during news briefings.

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