Out of 14 countries, South Africa ranks high for how badly we treat each other online by trolling, cyber bullying and being generally mean.

This is according to Microsoft’s recently released Civility Index Report 2017.

The company conducted a study in 14 countries, gauging the attitudes and perceptions of teens (ages 13-17) and adults (ages 18-74) about the state of digital civility today.

The study measured survey respondents’ lifetime exposure to 17 online risks across four categories:

  • Behavioural – Behavioural risks (39%) were the second most common occurring risk category. Over one in five had experienced treated mean (22%) or trolling (21%) and both were among the top five individual risks.
  • Reputational – Among reputational risks, people were most likely to have encountered doxing (12%) followed by damage to personal reputation (8%).
  • Sexual – Three in ten consumers had experienced a sexual risk (30%) led by unwanted sexting (received or sent, 24%) and sexual solicitation (15%).
  • Personal/intrusive – Unwanted contact (43%) was the main driver of intrusive risks and had the highest incidence of any individual risk.

Unwanted contact was the most common online risk in South Africa (60%), followed by hate speech (20%), discrimination (8%) and terrorism recruitment (1%).

Under the behavioural category, we rank high for mean treatment (33%, second after Russia), trolling (27%) and cyber bullying (12%).

Overall findings

Adults had higher incidences of of online risk exposure, greater exposure to sexual risks while teens were more optimistic about their personal safety and interacted with others online more.

Loss of trust was the most severe result of being exposed to online risks with 40% of respondents saying they’d lost trust in people online after their experience, while 30% said they lost trust in people offline.

Of those who’d been exposed, 81% took some form of action, tightening privacy settings on social media being the most common form of action (44%).

“People are establishing social norms online that include treating each other with respect and dignity, but there’s more that we can all do. We’d like to see digital civility – grounded in empathy – become a universal message and a common-sense behaviour, so the internet can be a safe place for everyone to exchange ideas, learn, play and connect,” Microsoft said.

[Source – Microsoft]