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40 Percent of Adult Internet Users Have Been Harassed Online

Harassment runs rampant online

(William Whitehurst/CORBIS)
smithsonian.com

The internet is not always anice place to play. The ability for basically anyone to talk to anyone else about whatever their hearts desire has fostered a culture of creativity and collaboration, but that ease of access has also means that trolls run rampant and aggressors are harder to keep out. You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

According to a new report by the Pew Research Center, a very large minority of adults have been harassed online. From name calling to physical threats and prolonged harassment, sexual slurs and stalking, 40 percent of internet users have experienced harassment, and 73 percent have seen it happen to someone else.

Most of the harassing is done by total strangers, says the Wall Street Journal, and most of the offenses fall on the lighter end of the spectrum. Yet as National Post columnist Christie Blatchford wrote earlier this year, the culture of harassment makes “one long for a time when death threats weren’t so easy to make.”

That 40 percent of internet-using adults who've been harassed, however, is the average value. As the Pew researchers found, victims of harassment tend to skew young—the tally jumps to 65 percent for the 18 to 29 crowd.

Men are more likely to be harassed overall, but as Slate points out, men are often attacked by the less severe forms of harassment, such as being called names or deliberately embarrassed. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to experience the more dangerous end of the spectrum, being stalked or sexually harassed. Men, though, are more likely to be physically threatened.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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