Safer Internet Day: Online experiences improved; hate speech, frauds up for Indian users

For online users in India, hate speech doubled from 2016 to 26 per cent in 2020, along with a 5 per cent increase in hoaxes, scams and frauds since 2017 to 22 per cent
Safer Internet Day: Online experiences improved; hate speech, frauds up for Indian users
Image source: Unsplash

India has seen a significant increase in hate speech, hoaxes, scams, frauds and discrimination for online users in the last three to four years, a Microsoft study revealed on Tuesday. Despite improving its total on online civility in the Asia-Pacific region in 2020, the country has witnessed a rise in hate speech.

Microsoft also unveiled results from its annual study, “Civility, Safety, and Interactions Online – 2020” along with findings from its 2020 Digital Civility Index (DCI). Results from Microsoft’s metric showed that India’s score in online civility had improved to 68, this year, from that of 71 in 2019, indicating that fewer people are experiencing negative online interactions or encountering online risks. India however did not fare well compared to much of Asia-Pacific (APAC), which had an overall score of 66[1].

A few risks remain high for India’s online users – especially hate speech, which has doubled from 2016 to 26 per cent. There has also been a 5 per cent increase in hoaxes, scams, and frauds since 2017 to 22 per cent and 6 per cent increase in discrimination since 2016 to 16 per cent.

The latest instalment of the DCI survey, which has been conducted annually for the past five years, surveyed around 16,000 respondents in 32 geographies, and was completed in April to May 2020[2]. The research polled adults and teenagers about their interactions online and experiences of online risks. This year’s research included nine APAC geographies: Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“Microsoft’s annual study on digital civility is crucial for raising awareness and encouraging positive online interactions. Our societies are relying on and embracing digital technologies more than ever before and a safer internet will improve experiences and shape the well-being of our communities,” said Keshav Dhakad, Group Head & General Counsel, Microsoft India.

“This Safer Internet Day, we are reminded that governments, organisations and individuals all have a part to play in helping make the internet a better place for work and play,” he added.

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