The internet is still a rough place, according to a new survey conducted in June by Pew Research's Internet Project and released today. A full 73 percent of the survey's respondents had witnessed someone being harassed online, while 40 percent had personally been the victim of harassment. Eight percent had been physically threatened, while seven percent had seen the harassment continue for a sustained period of time. Most alarming, more than a quarter of women between the ages of 18 and 24 reported some form of online sexual harassment. "The data show that men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment," the report says, "while young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking."
The vast majority of the harassment took place on public social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, both of which have struggled to limit online abuse while preserving an open platform. One in ten respondents reported withdrawing from a particular forum in response to online abuse, indicating the harassment creates a real chilling effect on online discourse, as well as a potential growth problem for expanding platforms.