Facebook has become the world’s most popular social network and has added a profound impact on daily life, which might not always be a good thing, a new online survey finds. Facebook is home to 62 percent of online abuse in the U.S., according to the poll, released on Wednesday.
The survey, conducted by Rad Campaign, Lincoln Park Strategies and Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist classified site and craigconnects advocacy blog, shows 47 percent of Americans under the age of 35 have been abused online or know somebody who has. Of the respondents who said they had been harassed, 57 were percent women and 43 percent were men.
“The first step toward dealing with unacceptable behavior: understand the problem, then we can get rid of it,” Craig Newmark said in a press release.
The consequences of online harassment can be very real as 30 percent respondents harassed online said they fear for their lives, while 20 percent feared the abuse could damage their careers and 38 percent felt it damaged their self-esteem, said Allyson Kapin, co-founder of Rad Campaign.
“Some people may think the Internet is a place where they can threaten people without consequences, but online harassment has horrifying real-life effects,” Kapin said release. “These poll results show the need for effective responses to the problem at all levels.”
Laws are not strong enough or are nonexistent when it comes to harassment, according to most respondents. Approximately 62 percent of people called for tougher laws to protect against harassment online and 61 percent called for stricter laws against harassment in the physical world. Approximately 50 percent of the time, however, people ignored the online abuse and did not report it.
The good news is that social networks often responded when notified of the abuse, as 61 percent of the time sites shut down the accounts of offenders, while 44 percent of the time law enforcement tried to track down the offenders.
Sexual harassment is the most common form of online abuse at 44 percent, followed by 28 percent for abuse about professional ability, 23 percent based on race and 14 percent based on homophobia, as measured by the survey. Frequency of abuse occurred fairly evenly for each racial demographic or political affiliation, while being a college graduate decreased the chances of sexual harassment. Approximately 63 percent of non-college graduates reported sexual harassment online.
The poll surveyed consisted 1,007 Americans over the age of 18 via online interviews between May 20-22.