If you felt like 2018 was a worse year than 2017 to be extremely online, there’s data to back you up. A new study from the Anti-Defamation League found that 37 percent of Americans faced severe harassment online in 2018. That’s up from 18 percent in 2017. It also found that over half of Americans — about 53 percent — have faced some kind of harassment online.
The ADL, using the Pew Research Center’s standards, defines severe behavior as “physical threats, sexual harassment, stalking and sustained harassment.” The study, conducted between December 17, 2018 and December 27, 2018, looked at responses from 1,134 people. It broke down the different types of harassment people were subject to online: 22 percent of people said they’d received physical threats, for example, and 18 percent said they’d been stalked.
From the ADL:
Around one-third (32%) of Americans who had been harassed reported that the harassment was a result of their sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, gender identity, or disability. One-in-five (20%) respondents who had experienced online harassment believe it was a result of their gender identity and some 15% because of their race or ethnicity. Roughly one-in-ten had been targeted as a result of their sexual orientation (11%), religion (11%), occupation (9%), or disability (8%).
All of this is to say two true if ineloquent things. The first is ugh. The second is duh. Of course people are being targeted for these things online. A study in 2018 from Amnesty International found that women face a horrendous amount of harassment and violence online, women of color most of all. An earlier study from the same group found that Twitter, and the toxicity flourishing there, violates women’s human rights. (The ADL study found that Facebook was home to the most reported harassment: 56 percent, with Twitter coming in second at 19 percent.) Perhaps the most interesting, or, rather, saddening figure from the ADL’s study was that 14 percent of Americans who said they had not been harassed were worried they might be in the future. See you all in 2019, when things will undoubtedly be worse.