Microsoft's Digital Civility Index challenges people to be more empathetic online

On Safer Internet Day (SID) 2017, Microsoft challenged people around the world to embrace "digital civility" and to treat each other with respect and dignity online. It may sound simple, but new Microsoft research shows people are concerned about the tone of online interactions and worry that risks will increase in the future.

Date 2017-02-14 Author Microsoft

The research prompted the creation of Microsoft's Digital Civility Index – a new measure of people's safety online and exposure to risks.

In June 2016, Microsoft conducted a study in 14 countries gauging the attitudes and perceptions of teens (ages 13-17) and adults (ages 18-74) about the state of digital civility today. It measured survey respondents' lifetime exposure to 17 online risks across four categories: behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive.

Some of the questions asked included:

  • How do you feel about civility, safety and interactions online?
  • Which online risks have you and your close circle experienced?
  • How concerned are you about those 17 risks?
  • When and how often have the risks occurred?
  • What consequences and actions were taken?
  • Where did you and others turn for help?

Results show people experienced these top five risks online:

  • Unwanted contact.
  • Being treated mean.
  • Trolling.
  • Receiving unwanted sexts.
  • Online harassment.

Other key findings include:

  • Two out of three respondents said they had fallen victim to at least one risk; that percentage rose to 78 per cent when participants also accounted for the online experiences of their friends and family members.
  • 50 per cent reported being "extremely or very" worried about life online generally.
  • 62 per cent said they did not know or were unsure where to get help when they encountered an online risk.

Microsoft have used the results to inform what they are calling a "Digital Civility Index" for each country surveyed along with an international index covering all 14 countries in the study. The lower the value (on a scale from zero to 100), the lower the respondents' risk exposure and the higher the perceived level of online civility among people in that country.

Read more about the study, its results, Microsoft's "Digital Civility Challenge" and links to Microsoft's online safety resources in the Microsoft blog post.

See Microsoft's Safer Internet Day Supporter profile page also.

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