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This study measures the prevalence and patterns of online harassment by examining six broad categories of abusive behavior (see “Defining online harassment” in the accompanying box).
These categories are identical to those used in Pew Research Center’s 2014 examination of online harassment.
And while certain behaviors would seem to “cross a line,” that line can vary from one person to the next.
Respondents who indicate they have personally experienced any of these behaviors online are considered targets of online harassment in this report.
All told, roughly two-thirds of young adults (67%) have been subject to some type of online harassment – with 41% having experienced severe forms of harassment.
All of these figures are statistically unchanged from the Center’s previous survey of online harassment conducted in 2014.
In terms of specific behaviors, blacks who go online are especially likely to say that they have been called offensive names (38% compared with 28% of white internet users) or to say that someone has tried to purposefully embarrass them (34% vs. “Any woman who has an opinion online is bound to get men who through anonymity feel the need to threaten and assault them.
Some 22% of Americans – or roughly half of those who have experienced harassment at all – have encountered online harassment that went no further than these two behaviors.Many Americans have experienced harassing behavior online, but harassment is an especially common fact of online life for younger adults.Nearly half of Americans ages 18 to 29 say they have been called offensive names online (46%) while more than a third say someone has tried to purposefully embarrass them (37%).They are designed to capture a broad range of experiences – not just severe forms of abuse, but also everyday forms of harassment that users might overlook.All told, 41% of Americans have been the target of harassing behavior online, a modest increase from the 35% of adults who were targets of online harassment in the Center’s 2014 report on the topic.