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Pew Research Center Releases New Report on Online Harassment

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The Pew Research Center released a report based on a month-long survey that explored one topic: online harassment. With #GamerGate and the very public threats made against Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, and other women online, the study was released at an interesting moment in our culture. But what does the data collected show about online harassment?

As Jessica Goldstein reports for ThinkProgress, the survey collected responses from almost 3,000 people. Maeve Duggan, one of the analysts on the report, told Goldstein that the study is “something of a first” for the Pew Research Center:

“In the past, we’ve done research more generally on kindness and cruelty online. So it built on some of that research but also took into account that, this year, there’s really been a culmination of attention paid to the issue. We thought it was a good time to take a deeper dive and put some figures into the conversation.”

The study looked at different types of online harassment, and respondents to the survey were asked about online harassment they had witnessed as well as had experienced themselves. Based on the report, “40 percent of internet users have experienced online harassment and 73 percent have witnessed it.”

Here’s what you should know about the findings:

+ Men Face More Harassment Online

According to Duggan, men are “more likely to experience harassment overall, and they are more likely to experience less severe forms of harassment: name calling and embarrassment.”

+ Women Were More Likely to Experience More Severe Forms of Harassment

Although men experienced harassment more often, young women were “particularly likely to experience stalking and sexual harassment.” Duggan says that 26 percent of female internet users 18 to 24 years old “have been stalked and 25 personal have been sexually harassed online.”

+ Lifestyle Comes in to Play

According to the report, when internet users have smaller social circles – such as in high school or college – they’re more likely to see rampant bullying. This could also be due to the fact that “younger people spent more time using different online services, like social media.”

+ Race Is a Factor, Too

Duggan found that Hispanics and African-Americans were “more likely than white internet users to experience harassment overall.”

Interestingly enough, of the nearly 3,000 people surveyed for the report, only five people called the police after the harassment. Goldstein sought out the advice of Danielle Citron, writer of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace,” who said the number could be small because “law enforcement just often dissuades people.” She thinks “law enforcement often just doesn’t have the expertise and training, and they get intimidated by technology, so they discourage victims from reporting.”

You can read Goldstein’s in-depth analysis of the report here, and you can find the full report online here. If you or someone you know is facing harassment online, you can find help at A Thin Line.

Photo: (Getty)