News

Harassed on social media? You’re not alone

Harassed on social media? You’re not alone

'SOCIALLY'-ACCEPTABLE BULLYING: Almost 30 percent of respondents said that after receiving online threats, they were scared for their lives, and 20 percent said they were scared to leave their homes. Photo: Associated Press

By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK -Nearly half of Americans under 35 have been bullied, harassed or threatened online, while women make up 57 percent of victims, according to a new survey by online advocacy groups.

Sixty-two percent of the 1,007 people over 18 surveyed said the harassment happened on Facebook, while 24 percent was on Twitter, according to a poll conducted by Rad Campaign, Lincoln Park Strategies and Craig Newmark – the founder of the Craigslist classified ads site.

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of those harassed online knew their harasser in real life, while in the under-35 age group, that number rose to 72 percent.

“The first step toward dealing with unacceptable behavior: understand the problem, then we can get rid of it,” Craig Newmark said.

The survey, conducted between May 20 and 22, found that sexual harassment is the most common form of online abuse (44 percent), followed by abuse about professional ability (28 percent), about a person’s race (23 percent) and homophobic remarks (14 percent).

Overall, the poll found that a quarter of Americans said they have been victims of cyber abuse.

Legislation to tackle cyber abuse is still patchy in the United States. There are a handful of laws at the federal level for cases of cyber-stalking, as Los Angeles-based journalist Amanda Hess wrote earlier this year in a series about women and online abuse.

Yet 62 percent of the online harassment poll respondents said that laws to tackle online abuse are not strong enough or are nonexistent.

A major problem, besides pinning down the abuser, is the fleeting nature of the web, where comments and profiles can easily be deleted while retrieving them would require will and ability.

It is also difficult to fully grasp the tone of threats made online, though the impact can be powerful and crippling.

Almost 30 percent of respondents said that after receiving online threats, they were scared for their lives, and 20 percent said they were scared to leave their homes.

Recent Headlines

in Music

CHART TOPPERS: This week’s top rock tracks

godsmack

LISTEN: This week's top rock tracks, according to the latest Billboard charts.

in Music

Robert Plant urges Jimmy Page to give up Led Zeppelin reunion

2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of the band Led Zeppelin, from left, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant chat on the red carpet after arriving at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Performance and Gala Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at the State Department in Washington.

Robert Plant has urged his former Led Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page to end his war of words with the singer and concentrate on recording new music.

in Weird

Groom turns canceled wedding into charity benefit

Groom

A Pittsburgh man whose wedding was called off is making the best of the situation. Instead of getting married he's raising thousands for charity.

in Weird

From Texas, where everything is bigger, the 99-pack of beer

99beers

Invite the whole neighborhood to your cookout, because you're going to have plenty of beer.

in Weird

Australian farmers could have world’s woolliest sheep

Six-year-old Shaun the merino sheep may be the world's woolliest sheep. He had likely never been shorn in his life, but was due to have a date with the clippers in the next few days, farmers said.

Shaun the sheep was found wandering the Australian countryside with what is estimated to be a 55 lb coat.