Microsoft digital civility study shows online abuse often comes from people's own social circles

According to Microsoft's latest study, released on Safer Internet Day (SID) 2018, people's digital interactions and responses to online risks appear to be improving around the world – though perhaps surprisingly, many of those who have been targeted for abuse online say their perpetrators came from their immediate families and social circles.

Indeed, nearly two in three respondents (61 per cent) said they had some familiarity with their online abusers. More than a third (36 per cent) said they knew the perpetrator personally: 17 per cent responded that the perpetrator was a friend or a family member, while nearly one in five (19 per cent) said the perpetrator was an acquaintance. One quarter of those surveyed said the offender was someone they knew only online, and 37 per cent said their online risk exposure came from a stranger. Family and friends accounted for a high percentage of perpetrators among those who said they were bullied online (41 per cent) or discriminated against (36 per cent).

These are some of the findings of Microsoft's latest study, "Civility, Safety and Interactions Online – 2017" which measured the perceptions of teens and adults about the online risks they face and how their interactions affect their lives.

Microsoft has released this research in conjunction with international Safer Internet Day. Microsoft is also reigniting its Digital Civility Challenge, asking people to pledge to live by four common-sense guidelines for safer online interactions, along with inviting everyone to share examples of how they're doing the right thing online using the hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility.

This year's Safer Internet Day theme is "Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you". To highlight the theme, the Microsoft research was conducted in June 2017 and, following on from last year's study, gauges the attitudes and perceptions of teens (ages 13-17) and adults (ages 18-74) about the state of civility online today. It measured respondents' lifetime exposure to 20 different online risks – three more than the previous year – across four categories: behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive.

The study was conducted in 23 countries (up from 14 countries in 2016).

This article is an abstract from a recent Microsoft blog article and is reproduced here with permission. Read the full Microsoft blog article on the "Microsoft on the issues" blog, including an overview of the top online risks, such as "unwanted contact", "hoaxes", and "fraud and scams", along with information on Microsoft's Digital Civility Challenge 2.0.

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

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