Online harassment burdens 41% of US adults ‒ study

Online harassment burdens 41% of US adults ‒ study
Online harassment is all too common in the US, according to a new poll that finds over 40 percent of adults claim to have been targeted. Even more people confirm having witnessed others being harassed.

Forty-one percent of US adults concede that they have experienced harassment online, while 66 percent claim that they have seen others being badgered. Offensive name-calling is cited as the most common way people experience these hurtful situations, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

Men are more likely than women to be harassed while online. The final tally for the comparison is 44 percent to 37 percent, in favor of men. However, women are more likely to get unwanted sexual advances on the internet. Fifty-three percent of women say they have received an explicit photo on the internet that they did not request, the study showed.

The last survey that Pew released on this topic was in 2014. At that time, 40 percent of people included in the survey admitted to experiencing online harassment. These figures indicate that the amount of harassment on the internet has inched up since the last study.

On the other hand, 73 percent reported seeing people bothered by others in that same report in 2014, revealing that there have been improvements in this area since the last time around.

It does not come as a surprise that social media is a hotbed for these situations. It is detailed as the number one place where the disturbances occur. Fifty-eight percent of people being harassed say that the last time it happened to them, they were on social media.

More than half of the people who experience the offensive behavior say that they don’t know the person who perpetrates it, the study revealed.

Instagram unveiled useful tools last year for people with “high volume content threads,” in an effort to thwart these kinds of threats, according to Tech Crunch.

Popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have put steps in place to address issues laid out in the report. Twitter rolled out a new feature on July 10 that lets a user mute notifications from an account that is newly registered, also people who follow and don’t follow the user are also subjected to the feature.

Many steps have already been taken by tech companies, but 35 percent of people surveyed say that the companies can implement better tools and policies to protect them. They also say that this is the best way to move forward in addressing the issue. An even larger amount of people, 79 percent, say that tech companies have a responsibility to enact better policies to help with this type of bullying, according to the study.

Pew included “emerging” threats in their study. One example is doxing, which refers to posting someone’s personal information online without their consent. Also included is trolling, which refers to someone who is trying to provoke someone else intentionally. Hacking, and swatting, which means to call 911 to fake an emergency and have the police show up at someone’s house, were also reflected in the survey.

The study states that “while many Americans are not aware of these behaviors, they have all been used to escalate abuse online.” Eighteen percent of people surveyed said that they have experienced hacking and trolling. However, only 73 percent of respondents say they’ve heard of doxing and 55 percent know of swatting.