Women are more likely to experience severe forms of harassment online, according to a Pew survey, and 65 percent of both men and women between ages 18 and 29 have experienced some form of online harassment.
Overall, 4 in 10 Internet users have experienced online harassment, while 73 percent have seen it happen to others.
Online harassment is especially pronounced at the intersection of gender and youth: women ages 18-24 are more likely than others to experience some of the more severe forms of harassment. They are particularly likely to report being stalking online (26% said so) and sexually harassed (25%). In addition, they are also the targets of other forms of severe harassment like physical threats (23%) and sustained harassment (18%) at rates similar to their male peers (26% of whom have been physically threatened and 16% of whom have been the victim of sustained harassment).
Most online harassment takes place on social media sites: “66% of internet users who have experienced online harassment said their most recent incident occurred on a social networking site or app,” Pew reports. The second-most commonly mentioned source of recent harassment, at 22 percent, was online comment sections. Women were more likely to cite social media as a source of harassment:
Fully 73% of women who have experienced online harassment said their most recent incident occurred on social networking sites or apps, compared with 59% of men. Men were more likely to cite the comments section of a website as the site of their most recent harassment – 21% of harassed men vs. 11% of harassed women.
While 63 percent of respondents agreed the Internet allows people to be more anonymous, fully 92 percent said it allows people to be more critical of others. Over half of those who have been harassed online said they didn’t know the identity of the person who harassed them. Reducing anonymity is a controversial way some news organizations have attempted to cut down on comment section vitriol.