Nearly Half Of American Online Users Have Been Harassed, Report Finds

Nearly half of Americans have been harassed online.  A new study shows the internet is really not a safe place for anyone.  About 47 percent of Americans have experienced different types of harassment online - from being called offensive names to being physically threatened, monitored, tracked, or cyber-stalked.

Women Are More Likely To Be Abused Than Men

The study, which was published by the Data and Society Research Institute, gathered data from 3,000 survey participants.  The researchers randomly called people asking if they have experienced 20 different harassing behaviors, and found out the women are more likely to face "serious violations".  1 in 10 female internet users said they have faced sexual harassment online vs. 1 in 20 male internet users. 

Research lead Amanda Lenhart said: "I was intrigued by the finding that shows that men and woman are equally likely to experience at least one of about 20 types of online harassment.  But when you drill down, you see the kinds of harassment that men and women experience are really quite different."

Technology Giants Are Continuously Looking For Ways To Decrease Online Abuse

Social media networks, like Twitter, have difficulty controlling online harassment.  Twitter has rolled out updates to fight abuse, such as allowing users to flip on a "quality filter" or only see responses from those they follow.  Google has a new tool to block harmful statements online.   It uses machine learning to automatically catch abusive language, giving it an "attack score" of 100 (with 100 being extremely harmful and 0 being not at all harmful).

But Lenhart says she is not sure if these are enough.  " I think we need more technological solutions certainly, but I don't think that's the only thing," she said. "There may be a broader need for a more social conversation. We need to explore additional options for how to make these spaces more hospitable to more people," she said.

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