New nationally representative data by the Pew Research Center of 4,248 U.S. adults brings to light the unsurprising reality that online harassment is thriving in Trump’s America. Not only that, but online harassment is gaining traction each passing year. Since 2016, instances of online harassment have increased by almost 10 percent. However, additional results have found that exposure to harassment–either directly or indirectly–is a prevalent factor that curtails many from practicing such behavior themselves. Here are six other takeaways from the report.
FOUR IN 10 AMERICAN ADULTS HAVE EXPERIENCED ONLINE HARASSMENT
In this case, “some form of online harassment” is a generalization that represents offensive name-calling, purposeful embarrassment, physical threats, harassment over a sustained period of time, sexual harassment and/or stalking. This figure represents a considerable five percent increase over last year’s. However, many more–seven in 10–claim they’ve witnessed others being harassed online. Thankfully, 22 percent experience less severe forms of online harassment–i.e. name-calling or embarrassment–but a concerning 18 percent have been targets of more severe attacks.
YOUNG ADULTS ARE MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE ONLINE ABUSE
This isn’t exactly shocking when you consider the social lives of young primarily exist on the internet. Research found that 67 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 has experienced online harassment; the number of cases for those over the age of 30 is less than half of that. Likewise, young adults are more than three times as likely to be the target of more severe forms of harassment, at 41 percent to 12 percent.
MEN ARE MORE OFTEN VICTIMS
What’s surprising is that men are more likely to be harassed online than women, 44 to 37 percent. Far less surprising though is that young women are more likely to be targets of sexual online harassment, at 21 percent. More than half of young women say they’ve received an unsolicited, explicit image. Dick pics are most popular.
POLITICS, RACE, GENDER AND APPEARANCE DRIVE HARASSMENT
In such a combustible political climate, it comes as no surprise that political views are the leading cause of online harassment this year, as cited by 14 percent of Americans. Democrats and Republicans are equally harassed, and the second most popular form of harassment was aimed toward one’s physical appearance, followed by race and gender.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS PART OF THE PROBLEM
When asked where their most recent experiece with online harassment unfolded, almost six in 10 people said it went down on social media. Comparatively, 23 percent experienced harassment in the comments section of a website while 15 percent cited text messages. Nine in 10 Americans agree that the anonymity of the internet enables people to be cruel. Considering more than half say their most recent incident involved a stranger or someone whose identity they didn’t know, this sounds about right.
Six in 10 Americans believe online harassment is a “major problem” and just as many say that the online platforms hosting this harassment should play a “major role” in addressing it. In addition, 43 percent of Americans say that law enforcement doesn’t take online harassment seriously enough. A third of Americans don’t even know how law enforcement handles such cases.
While there is no universal curing this growing social epidemnic, more than a quarter of Americans say they have withheld posting something after witnessing online harassment, while 28 percent note they’ve adjusted their privacy settings after seeing this type of online behavior. In extreme cases, one in 10 have stopped using an online service altogether after seeing others being harassed.