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Quarter of British adults have experienced cyberbullying, figures show

Almost half of those who have been cyberbullied failed to report the incident to the platform

Sirena Bergman
Monday 29 April 2019 17:22 BST
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Facebook was the most common platform for cyberbullying, followed by Twitter
Facebook was the most common platform for cyberbullying, followed by Twitter (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Almost one if four people in the UK have experienced some sort of cyberbullying, according to research released today.

The YouGov poll, which interviewed 2,034 people, found that 23 per cent of people reported being targeted online.

Those aged 18 to 24 are the most likely to be cyberbullied, with 55 per cent of respondents in this age bracket saying they had experienced some sort of bullying online, followed by 25- to 34-year-olds (33 per cent).

While a number of campaigns are trying to address cyberbullying among children, these figures show it’s also worryingly common in adults.

The most common form of cyberbullying was harassment, when a person sends abusive or hateful messages – one in eight people said this had happened to them before.

Cyberstalking – where someone sends messages repeatedly that make you afraid for your safety – had been experienced by 5 per cent of respondents, while 7 per cent have had someone spread fake and potentially damaging information about them online.

Facebook was the most common platform for cyberbullying, followed by Twitter. Adults are least likely to experience cyberbullying on YouTube and Snapchat.

Just over half (53 per cent) of those who have been cyberbullied reported the incident to the platform.

These experiences can have real-life consequences – one in four 18- to 24-year-olds who have experienced cyberbullying say they have less confidence engaging in real life discussions as a result of this.

According to 2017 statistics from anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label, among those aged 12 to 20, Instagram is the most common platform for cyberbullying.

A 2018 survey found that almost half of young people said that in the last year they had experienced someone being mean to them over the internet – or they had been excluded online.

Earlier this month, a white paper published jointly by the Departments for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office, proposed new laws which would require social media companies to protect users from harm, which includes violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material.

At the time, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “We have listened to campaigners and parents, and are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe.

“Online companies must start taking responsibility for their platforms, and help restore public trust in this technology.”

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