Email Widely Used For Online Harassment: Pew Research

Email may not be the most likely channel for bullying and harassment. But it is still utilized for those purposes, according to Pew. Online harassment occurs most often on social media, but occurs in other places, too, a study by Pew Research Center finds.

But it depends on the type of offensive behavior. Of people who had been stalked online, the likely medium for 54% was a texting platform. And 46% said sexual harassment was done via texting. 

But 30% of people who were most recently stalked say it was done via email, whereas 11% were harassed by email overall. 

Of those who received physical threats, 25% say it was most recently done via their personal email accounts, versus 25% who suffered this in online dating sites/apps. 

In addition, 23% cite texting/messaging apps and 21% cite forum/discussion sites.  

Offensive name-calling is most likely to be done on online gaming sites — with 63% cite them, compared to 43% who cite them with email. 

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But Pew research associate Emily A. Vogels notes that “recent incidents on dating sites (60%), in personal emails (57%) or on a texting or messaging app (52%) are especially likely to involve at least one more severe behavior.” 

And of those who experienced an encounter in one of the locations listed by Pew, “64% say they faced only less severe behaviors, while a quarter reported any more severe behaviors,” Vogels adds.  

Pew also found that 55% who faced one of the more severe forms of online harassment in their most recent incident were targeted in multiple places online, compared to 41% who received any form of harassment at all. 

In addition, 67% of whose most recent incident involved sustained harassment experienced this across multiple locations. The same was true of 65% who were exposed to stalking, 60% who were exposed to physical threats, and 58% who were exposed to sexual harassment.  

Vogels also reports that “recent incidents on dating sites (60%), in personal emails (57%) or on a texting or messaging app (52%) are especially likely to involve at least one more severe behavior. 

It was not clear whether any of the threats and other harassment reported had a political context, or how well the victims knew the offenders. 

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