Survey: Harassment a common part of online life (Update)

Survey: Harassment a common part of online life
In this Monday, Sept. 26, 2011 file photo, 22-year-old Catherine Devine reads instant messages on her laptop screen at her home in Kings Park, N.Y. Devine had her first of several brushes with online harassment in seventh grade, before she'd even ventured onto the Internet. A report released Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of American adults who use the Internet have witnessed online harassment. Forty percent have experienced it themselves. (AP Photo/Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke, File)

A new study confirms what many Internet users know all too well: Harassment is a common part of online life.

The first-of-its-kind report by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of American adults who use the Internet have witnessed online harassment. Forty percent have experienced it themselves.

The types of harassment Pew asked about range from name-calling to physical threats, sexual harassment and stalking. Half of those who were harassed said they didn't know the person who had most recently attacked them.

Young adults—people 18 to 29—were the most likely age group to see and undergo online harassment. Women ages 18 to 24 were disproportionately the victims of stalking and sexual harassment, according to the survey. And people who have more information available about themselves online, work in the tech industry or promote themselves on the Internet, were also more likely to be harassed.

Case in point: Celebrities. Stars such as the actress Jennifer Lawrence had nude photos stolen and posted online recently in a widespread hacking scandal in late August. Lawrence, 24, later told Vanity Fair that she considered looking at the pictures a sex crime.

It can be difficult for police to go after online bullies in part because "our legal system hasn't quite caught up with technology," said Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University who studies online aggression. On top of that, adults are generally hesitant to report harassment because they might view it as a "child or teenage problem."

"But the Internet has no age limits," Dowdell said. "People look for outlets for aggression and the Internet is a wonderful place because it's anonymous and you don't have to be truthful."

Social networking companies have sometimes been criticized for not doing enough to stop online harassment, even though it's standard policy to ban threats, bullying and harassment. But they have at least tried to respond to complaints.

Twitter, for example, changed its policy recently after some users sent crude, altered images of Robin Williams to his daughter Zelda following the actor's suicide in August. The company now says it can remove images of deceased individuals that circulate on its site.

Trendy new social networking site Ello, meanwhile, recently added tools people can use to block or mute users who are bothering them. The ad-free, decidedly anti-Facebook website was criticized early on for not providing blocking features that are standard practice for social networks.

Though online harassment is as old as the Internet itself, the Pew survey is particularly timely as conversations around it have grown louder in recent months—and not just because of the celebrity hacking scandal. Beginning this summer, people involved in an online campaign dubbed "Gamergate" have been harassing several prominent women in the video game industry and their supporters for criticizing the lack of diversity and how women are portrayed in games. One of the targets is Brianna Wu, a software engineer and founder of game developer Giant Spacekat. Wu, who is in her mid-30s, said she has frequently been harassed online, but it's gotten worse this year.

Earlier this month, people threatened her and her husband with rape, death and castration on Twitter and posted her address online, she said, and they have been trying to impersonate her on the Internet to smear her reputation. She got so frightened that she left her home in Boston.

Wu went to the police, but most people harassed online don't. According to Pew, just 5 percent of those who were harassed reported the incident to law enforcement, while nearly half confronted the person online. Forty-four percent said they unfriended or blocked the person.

But victims of harassment often don't know where it's coming from. Thirty-eight percent of people who were harassed online said a stranger was behind the threats, and another 26 percent didn't know who the person was.

"You can have many different (personas) online," Dowdell said. "So you might think 'I'm going to block Scaryfriend123' and Scaryfriend says 'Fine, I'm going to use my other name Superniceguy' and you just don't know."

Among other key findings from Pew:

— Two-thirds of those who were harassed said the most recent incident took place on a social networking site or app, while 22 percent saw it happen in the comments section of a website. Sixteen percent, meanwhile, said it happened in online gaming.

— Men were more likely to be called offensive names than women. Of all Internet users (89 percent of the U.S. population), 32 percent of men and 22 percent of women were called names. Men were also more likely to be physically threatened.

— Not everyone said they were hurt by online harassment. While 14 percent of people found their most recent incident "extremely upsetting," 22 percent said it was "not at all upsetting." The rest of the people surveyed had reactions in between.

The telephone and online survey was conducted between May 30 and June 30 among 3,217 respondents. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.


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Citation: Survey: Harassment a common part of online life (Update) (2014, October 22) retrieved 26 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-10-survey-common-online-life.html
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Oct 22, 2014
I'm not sure a negative comment reply is exactly harassment. I mean it's certainly rude, but basically we're on track here to call any kind of disagreement online harassment. If someone gives you a hard time in the comments of a social network site (People posting your home address is a particularly focused form of criminal harassment and excluded from this caveat) then you can block them, report them, stop using that site, change your anonymous pseudonym, unfriend them, change your commenting habits, stop commenting on public pages with your actual name, get a different account, close the account, or just yell back at them and turn the tables. At no point is any of it serious or particularly harmful UNLESS people actually have your real life information. Then that's more than harassment, it's criminal stalking and ought to be prosecuted more directly.

Oct 22, 2014
Totally agree. Lot of 'net newbs just need to grow a frickin' skin. The knee-jerk alarmists would have us lose all the positive benefits of casual anonymity for the sake of a few weak egos.

Or to put it absolutely bluntly - if you can't stand the heat... 'Else toughen up, and let the merits of your words win out.

Oct 23, 2014
The kind of comments kids exchange online are the same type of comments they hear and say every day at school. It's not like juvenile insults on the internet suddenly robbed them of their innocence. The study doesn't specify exactly what constitutes "harassment", but aside from targeted personal threats I have a feeling they are using the definition pretty loosely.

If you are a public person with a public presence online, and you make an unpopular stand against something, expect a lot of hate mail. Now I'm not saying it's the victims fault, but it's pretty simple cause and effect. No one is going to stand for the kind of privacy invasion it would take to hold every individual accountable for every comment online. And I cringe thinking about the panel of innocence-lost tear faced ladies that would try to enforce such a thing. I think some people should just avoid the internet.


Oct 23, 2014
Beginning this summer, people involved in an online campaign dubbed "Gamergate" have been harassing several prominent women in the video game industry and their supporters for criticizing the lack of diversity and how women are portrayed in games.


The other version of this story is that these prominent women who are being bullied ran a donation campaign to fund their research and then turned out a very one-sided and provocative, mis-reprensentative assesment that had almost nothing to do with legitimate criticism. The assesment included for example, that the ragdoll physics used in games are for the purpose of male rape fantasy.

They then use the negative backlash as evidence to support their own assertion that the gamer community is being misogynist. In other words, they are trolling for money by playing martyrs over the fact that people responded with ire to false accusations.

The harrassment you get online isn't always undeserved.

Oct 23, 2014
Lets see on physorg, I've been threatened with physical violence.... by a Progressive
On facebook if you are a conservative, you are called names..... by Progressives


Oct 23, 2014
I've got an entourage of harassers, my own troll army.
https://sciencex....5/?v=act

Oct 23, 2014
I've got an entourage of harassers, my own troll army.
https://sciencex....5/?v=act


Make pseudo scientific claims on a science site and you're rightly going to receive criticism, that's not harassment.

Oct 23, 2014
cant, I got you beat... my troll army beats yours..... oh wait they are the same

https://sciencex....g/?v=act

Paid Progressive Government Trolls and their sockpuppets, you can spot them by the patterns they leave.

Cant, What is the difference between Progressives, Radical Islamist and Democrats?

Let's see, they all lie, they all will say one thing meaning another, they all hate Christians, they all detest conservatives, they all believe the ends justify the means, sorry Cant.... it was a trick question... there is no difference.

Oct 24, 2014
cant, I got you beat... my troll army beats yours..... oh wait they are the same

https://sciencex....g/?v=act

Paid Progressive Government Trolls and their sockpuppets, you can spot them by the patterns they leave.

Cant, What is the difference between Progressives, Radical Islamist and Democrats?

Let's see, they all lie, they all will say one thing meaning another, they all hate Christians, they all detest conservatives, they all believe the ends justify the means, sorry Cant.... it was a trick question... there is no difference.

White, black, brown, or yellow may be the only differences, yet simpletons one and all.

NOM
Oct 24, 2014
Lets see on physorg, I've been threatened with physical violence.... by a Progressive
You suggest that people commit suicide. That's not so nice is it.
On facebook if you are a conservative, you are called names..... by Progressives
Oh poor little freetard, did they hurt your feelings. Not like you would ever call someone else anything nasty.

If the two of you feel so picked on, there are plenty of conservative and/or pseudoscience websites out there. You won't be missed.

Oct 24, 2014
NOM you and your sockpuppets are always busy.

Progressives and Democrats love the use of sockpuppets, they just can't get enough of voting, voting often, and voting fraudulently.


NOM
Oct 24, 2014
I've told you before. Your political definitions don't mean anything outside the US.

Oh, we did have an election last month. There was a "Conservative" party running. They came eighth.

Oct 24, 2014
I've told you before. Your political definitions don't mean anything outside the US.

Oh, we did have an election last month. There was a "Conservative" party running. They came eighth.


Progressivism is a world wide movement. It has been for nearly 150 years now. You might call them Social Democrats.

Oct 24, 2014
"Progressivism is a world wide movement. It has been for nearly 150 years now. You might call them Social Democrats."

Actually you can date it starting around 1776.


Oct 24, 2014
"Progressivism is a world wide movement. It has been for nearly 150 years now. You might call them Social Democrats."

Actually you can date it starting around 1776.


Why am I not surprised you'd suggest the founding of what once was a constitutional republic is somehow similar to a socialist state. Any examination of the founders and their traits reveals the fact that they were into self sufficiency and were largely libertarian. As usual, reality is basically the opposite of what you claim.

That Agent Orange induced dementia is clearly taking over your reason.

Oct 24, 2014
It still is a constitutional republic.

What they did was was radical, they overthrew the status quo and united a loose confederation into a nation with democratic representation and a strong central government. Those aren't conservative accomplishments.

Oct 25, 2014
It still is a constitutional republic.

What they did was was radical, they overthrew the status quo and united a loose confederation into a nation with democratic representation and a strong central government. Those aren't conservative accomplishments.

As I said, reality is basically the opposite of what you claim.

Oct 25, 2014
@Cantdrive
This isn't the forum to demonstrate that my knowledge of the years leading up to the Revolutionary War and to the writing of and adoption of the Constitution is far superior to yours, but if it was, you would look more the fool than you do now .

Oct 25, 2014
I've got an entourage of harassers
@cd
@freefromthought
actually, posting of pseudoscience to a science site makes YOU the harassers as well as trolls and troll army, which in turn proves Vietvet's point
Make pseudo scientific claims on a science site and you're rightly going to receive criticism, that's not harassment
per the site rules: https://sciencex....omments/
Include references to the published scientific literature to support your statements. Pseudoscience comments (including non-mainstream theories) will be deleted (see pseudoscience)
so when we ask for reputable science as well as empirical evidence, and you post thunderbolt BS and eu, it is considered harassment as well as TROLLING/PSEUDOSCIENCE and deserves to be reported and deleted

as for the rest of the BS both of you posted: the reason you are continually proven wrong and downrated is because you use PSEUDOSCIENCE on a science site

yep
Oct 27, 2014
Standard theory is continually proven wrong yet you still believe in its theoretical a priori assumptions which make the empirical evidence garbage in garbage out because of its scewed perspective. Your faith is so strong observational evidence is meaningless and as the gate keeper of "truth" you would rather believe in a mathematical fallacy. Different views of empirical evidence get labeled pseudoscience yet you believe in a standard theory of nonsense which history has shown time and time again will be looked at as "gross superstitions" by future generations. So the BS is really what you keep posting. Science is not written in stone it changes with evidence and we have that so you better catch up.

Oct 27, 2014
@yep
"Standard theory is continually proven wrong--"

LINKS?

yep
Oct 27, 2014
History lesson coming up.
http://en.m.wikip...theories
Look at how many articles in phys.org just at this last year have scientist stating how evidence did not fit the prevailing paradigm.
This is not some obscure notion, it is an ongoing process in our scientific reality.

Oct 27, 2014
Established scientific theories are very rarely proven wrong. They are usualy merely extended (to account for more extreme circumstances) or unified with other theories. Hypotheses are often proven wrong, tough.

Most of established science will be more or less correct until the end of time.

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