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article imageOp-Ed: Online harassment stats — The ugly state of US social media

By Paul Wallis     Feb 14, 2019 in Internet
New York - 53% of Americans report online harassment in some form. According to a new YouGov study, it’s pretty much universal. The YouGov data doesn’t make for fun reading, but it does define the issues and the preferred means of dealing with them.
The YouGov study commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), lays out, demographic by demographic, the “State of the Internet”, and it’s a pretty hideous sight. Seems every clown with access to the internet can’t stop hammering away on individuals, religions, political views and everything else which they disagree with, and social media is the perfect vehicle for these primitive bozos to get jolly. 37% of cases reported "severe" harassment.
Facebook, as the big numbers site, is the main site for online harassment, with the others, notably Twitter, Twitch, and Instagram rattling along behind.
The numbers are interesting, though:
Harassment numbers for specific groups were:
• LBGTQ+ 63%
• Muslims 35%
• Hispanics 30%
• African-Americans 27%
• Women 24%
• Asian-Americans 20%
• Jews 16%
So – Pick your ancestry and your chromosomes right, and you can be part of the fun, courtesy of some damn online ape somewhere in oblivion. Physical threats were 22%, stalking 18%, and other charming occupations were in similar numbers.
Who does what about online harassment
The harassment also included some indications of what was done about it:
• Reported to police 6%
• Took steps for personal security as a result of harassment 16%
• Reported to social media platform 18%
The risk factors vary from nuisance to actual credible threats, in many cases. It’s fair to say that the report’s record of people’s responses to harassment doesn’t indicate much hysteria on the part of those harassed, either, just practical reactions.
Meanwhile - According to the study, 67% of Americans want solid measures to manage online harassment. 80% want stronger laws. 81% want better filtering.
The rest of the problem of online harassment
This study, for some reason, doesn’t mention the repulsive political harassment, which is practically compulsory in the United States. It doesn’t mention the basic all-round psychos who can read “The cat sat on the mat” and accuse whoever wrote it of anything and essentially persecute the poster or other online participants, either.
The study focuses on what are basically hate crime structured types of harassment. That’s understandable; the ADL is an anti-hate organization. However, the question remains whether the hate is the whole story.
There’s big money in harassment, hate speech, and similar hobbies. There are many US organizations affiliated to the Right which have been paying people for years to get online and abuse anyone who disagrees or criticizes them. Thanks to paid social media trolls, particularly the Alt Right variety, hate is now an industry. The methodology is as insidious, and as dangerous, as the hate. It’s the new currency for a range of social problems.
Problem solved, maybe?
Killing the method is the better approach to shutting this BS down permanently. Actually, “paid hate” may be its own solution. Make payment for hate speech illegal, and extract the financial bone marrow out of any organization or individual paying for this crap. Reasonable levels of proof of payment for “services”, documented payments, there’d have to be some sort of case which could be built, even in cash-only payments to people using false names.
Any level of risk is usually enough for bullies and other scum to get their gutless weakling butts waddling out of the firing line. The deterrent factor is what’s missing, and a few healthy court rulings could do a lot of good. Let’s give it a shot.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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