Internet is a lovely place? Maybe not, but online civility has improved since 2016, according to a Microsoft study.
Let’s not forget, 2016 was when Microsoft launched its swearbot Tay to the world before quickly unplugging it when it became clear that its social media experience had gone completely Nazi after being exposed to these nice people on the World Wide Web.
In 2016, Microsoft also launched its online civility, safety and interaction survey. The 2022 update, replete with a Numerical Civility Index (DCI) score, examines four categories: Reputational (doxing and others), Behavioral (trolling, harassment and bullying), Personal/Intrusive (misogyny, scams, extremist content) and sexual (sending unwanted text messages, receiving unwanted attention, etc.).
The survey results feed into a DCI score (from zero to 100). The lower the score, the lower the risk and the higher the perceived civility.
If this year’s score of 65% doesn’t sound very appealing to you, consider it a 2% improvement over last year, according to Microsoft, and the best since the start of the survey in 2016.
Some 90 percent of this year-over-year improvement is attributable to men. Women surveyed, on the other hand, experienced nearly 60% of reported risks in 2021 (“an all-time high,” Microsoft said) “and were also more likely to have experienced consequences, worry, or pain due to uncivil treatment. “
Interestingly, despite the decline in DCI, perceptions of civility have actually worsened, with 30% saying things have gotten worse during the pandemic and a 7% and 5% increase in respondents saying “I see more people expressing their online frustration. and “I see less tolerance towards others” respectively. There was an 11% drop in people feeling “we’re all in this together”.
And that was in 2021. God knows what that note is after the past few weeks of mounting global tensions.
So while the DCI score has improved across 11,000 respondents across 22 countries, the improvement is not evenly distributed and women bear the greatest burden of risk online.
More work clearly needs to be done. ®