- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

“Harassment is now a feature of life online for many Americans. In its milder forms, it creates a layer of negativity that people must sift through as they navigate their daily routines online. At its most severe, it can compromise user privacy, force them to choose when and where to participate online, or even pose a threat to their physical safety,” reported a wide-ranging national survey from the Pew Research Center.

It revealed that a hefty majority of the public — 62 percent — now say that online harassment is a “major problem” for the nation. The survey identified many forms of it, from mere name-calling and ridicule to physical threats and stalking.

Significantly, 79 percent of Americans say that online companies should step in and address harassment on their respective platforms.

“Fully 60 percent of Americans say that bystanders who witness harassing behavior online should play a major role in addressing this issue, and 15 percent feel that peer pressure from others is the single-most effective way to address online harassment,” the poll noted.

“They also see a significant role for law enforcement in dealing with online abuse: 49 percent think law enforcement should play a major role in addressing online harassment, and 31 percent say stronger laws are the single-most effective way to address this issue.”

Among the findings:

• 62 percent say online harassment is a major problem; 41 percent have personally experienced it.

• 30 percent have intervened when someone else was harassed.

• 28 percent have not posted online after witnessing online harassment.

• 27 percent have been called offensive names, 22 percent were subjected to “purposeful embarrassment.”

• 18 percent received physical threats.

• 14 percent were harassed because of their politics, 9 percent for physical appearance, 8 percent for race, ethnicity, 8 percent for gender, 5 percent for religion, 3 percent for sexual orientation.

Source: A Pew Research Center American Trends poll of 4,248 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 9-23 and released Tuesday.

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