New Microsoft Study Reveals Top Risks Online For “Safer Internet Day”

February 6, 2018

Calls on Digital Citizens Around the World to Embrace Digital Civility

Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft

(Redmond, WA, Tuesday, February 6, 2018) – It’s Safer Internet Day 2018, and Microsoft is once again calling on digital citizens around the world to embrace “digital civility” and to treat each other with respect, kindness and empathy online.

Microsoft is releasing results from its latest global study “Civility, Safety and Interactions Online – 2017,” which looks at people’s experiences with 20 types of online risks. Among their findings, Microsoft learned that people’s digital interactions and responses to online risks are improving around the world. However, many respondents who reported online abuse and harassment say their attackers were immediate family members or friends.

Additional highlights from the study, covering all respondents, include:

  • The international DCI is at 65%, with 62% of consumers sharing they were extremely or very concerned about at least one online risk.
  • 61% shared they had some familiarity with their online abusers.
  • Over 1 in 5 respondents experienced being treated mean (22%) or trolled online (21%) which are both among the top 5 individual risks, while 43% experienced unwanted contact and 8% experienced damage to their personal reputation.
  • 40% of respondents became less trusting of others online, and 30% became less trusting offline in the real world following exposure to online risk.

Microsoft studied online risks and their impacts in four categories:

  • Reputational risk like “doxing” and damage to personal or professional reputations,
  • Behavioral risk such as being treated meanly, trolled, harassed and bullied online, or encountering hate speech and microaggressions
  • Sexual risk like sending or receiving unwanted sext messages and making sexual solicitations, or  being a victim of sextortion or non-consensual pornography (aka “revenge porn”), and
  • Personal / intrusive risk such as being the target of unwanted contact, experiencing discrimination, experiencing “swatting” or a deceptive or falsely reported incident to police, fire or medical services creating an emergency response, misogyny, exposure to extremist content/recruiting, or falling victim to hoaxes, scams or fraud.

The Index reports survey responses from people ages 13-74 living in: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.

This year, Microsoft is encouraging people to commit to the Digital Civility Challenge by pledging to live by four guidelines encouraging safer and healthier interactions online. Then, share how this has made a positive difference for them or someone they know using the hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility:

  • Live the Golden Rule by acting with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treating everyone you connect with online with dignity and respect.
  • Respect differences, honor diverse perspectives and when disagreements surface, engage thoughtfully, and avoid name-calling and personal attacks.
  • Pause before replying to things you disagree with, and don’t post or send anything that could hurt someone else, damage reputations or threaten someone’s safety.
  • Stand up for yourself and others by supporting those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, reporting threatening activity and preserving evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behavior.

You can see the full Challenge by visiting

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