Report Harmful Content release Annual Report 2021

Report Harmful Content (RHC) recently launched their annual report for 2021, Through These Walls, analysing data between January 2020 -December 2020. Although there appears to be a worrying rise in reported cases, it is apparent there is improved public understanding of identifying and relating incidents to official bodies.

Date 2021-07-19 Author UK Safer Internet Centre Section awareness Topic media literacy/education, potentially harmful content Audience media specialist, organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers
Logo representing the RHC annual report 'Through These Walls'

Through These Walls seeks to get to the heart of harmful content reporting over the past year, not only regarding harmful content proliferation during COVID-19 lockdowns, but also public attitudes towards identifying and raising incidents with an official dispute resolution service.

The report offers a detailed look into the particular types of harmful content flagged, and a breakdown and analysis of the most common forms. Some of the key findings were:

  • The RHC website received 17,406 visitors and practitioners dealt with 644 unique cases, a 292 per cent rise on the previous pilot year.
  • One in three incidents involved bullying or harassment. 
  • A concerning 225 per cent increase in ‘hate speech’ was reported. 
  • Domestic abuse trend finds 75 per cent of perpetrators personally known to the victim, and three-quarters of reports were made by women.

On a more positive note, of the reports logged with RHC, 90 per cent of the content escalated to industry was successfully actioned and removed, indicating the right tools do exist to report and resolve these distressing events for victims.

Graphic design representing the RHC annual report "Through These Walls"

Image credit: South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL)

Kathryn Tremlett, Report Harmful Content’s Manager, says,

Although the report indicates the web is still awash with harmful and inappropriate content, it is a positive sign public awareness around this important issue is increasing. Although these findings indicate an urgent need to better regulate online content and protect internet users, they also show that bodies like RHC are efficacious in giving redress for victims by getting these disputes raised and resolved.
It will surprise no one that this is just the tip of a much larger iceberg, which needs more exposure. It’s our ongoing aim to offer a channel for the public to raise their concerns directly with industry, where legal routes don’t currently exist or reporting channels on platforms aren’t proving effective. COVID-19, and more time spent online, has thrown this into the spotlight, prompting the need for a wider discussion. As such, the UK Government’s recent Online Safety Bill represents a welcome opportunity to move the conversation on.

Report Harmful Content (RHC) offers a safe, impartial and effective platform to report harmful content in the UK. If you have been a victim or witnessed harmful online content, then get in touch for free support.

Find out more about the work of the UK Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

This article was originally published by South West Grid for Learning, part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, and is republished here with permission.

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