Tracking Experiences of Online Harms and Attitudes Towards Online Safety Interventions: Findings from a Large-Scale, Nationally Representative Survey of the British Public
22 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2023
Date Written: March 21, 2023
In light of current policy conversations around online safety, The Alan Turing Institute sought to understand experiences of online harms and attitudes towards their mitigation amongst the British public. To do so, we asked a nationally representative sample of over four thousand people the extent to which they had experienced content which they consider to be harmful online (such as hate speech, misinformation, bullying or violence), as well as what they thought social media platforms and the government should do to tackle harmful content online. Our findings show that exposure to online harms amongst the British public is high, with two thirds (66%) of all adults reporting that they had witnessed harmful content online before, whilst for participants aged 18-34 this was almost 9 in 10 (86%). In addition, participants across all demographic groups strongly welcomed action from social media platforms to tackle online harms. Almost 80% of respondents thought that social media platforms should ban or suspend users who create harmful content, and almost 75% thought that platforms should remove harmful content. The majority of respondents support increased action from the government to tackle online harms and less than 1% of respondents were of the opinion that government should do nothing to deal with harmful online content. These findings come at a time of heightened national attention to a myriad of topics concerning the next phase of internet regulation, and highlight the importance of efforts from researchers, practitioners and policy-makers in working towards a safer online environment.
Keywords: Public Policy, Social Media, Online Safety
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