Unwanted contact, hate speech earn Indians all-time low online civility score: Microsoft

Unwanted contact, hate speech earn Indians all-time low online civility score: Microsoft
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12 Feb, 2020

While most Indians are worried about their online credit scores, technology giant Microsoft pointed out that people need to also focus on their online civility score. 

India’s online civility score is at an all-time low, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft revealed in its latest digital civil index. The company began keeping scores in 2016. 

India’s poor internet civility rating was attributed to unwanted contact (40%), hate speech (23%), trolling (21%), and unwanted sexting (26%).

While the perceived digital civility was at 59% in 2018, the number shot up to 71% in 2019. A higher digital civility index score shows lower perceived civility. India was also the fastest mover from 2018 to 2019 with a 12 percentile increase. France was in second place with an increase of 10%, led mostly by online hoaxes, frauds and scams.

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The survey, conducted in May 2019, was based on the views of 502 Indian adults and teenagers between the ages of 18-74 and 13-17 respectively.  The questions assessed risks in four areas; behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal.

The research was conducted across 25 countries and thousands of respondents were assessed on 21 online risks. The countries that performed the best on the index were the UK (52%), the Netherlands (56%) and Germany (58%). 

Shockingly, 45% of those surveyed had met the perpetrator in real life. Among the Indian respondents, 98% said that they suffered mental trauma from at least one of the risks, while 80% said they worried about the recurrence of an experienced risk.

“Respondents reported experiencing risks recently and more frequently. For instance, 40% said they’d been exposed to a risk in the last week or month prior to the study being fielded, and three-quarters (75%) experienced one of the 21 risks on two or more occasions,” Jacqueline Beauchere - Global Digital Safety Advocate, Microsoft, said in a blogpost on the company’s website.

About 40% of those surveyed said they had been targeted for their sexual orientation, while politics (37%) and religion (39%) were the unsurprising second and third placed topics where Indians lacked civil sense online.

 In terms of consequences, 94% felt worried it would affect their professional reputation while 93% said it would damage their personal reputation.

 Microsoft said that it hoped the policymakers, companies and consumers would consider the need for a safer and more respectful internet environment and push towards more global “digital civility.”

On the positive side of the survey, about 50% of respondents felt technology and social media companies would create tools and implement policies to help in more respectful online behaviour. Respondents also felt that the individual’s ability to protect the privacy and personal data would improve in the coming years. 

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