New Poll Shows The Rise Of Online Harassment

Hey folks, real important stuff: almost 50% of Americans under the age of 35 have been bullied, harassed or threatened online, or know someone who has, according to a new poll published today.

You may not be surprised to discover that women are targeted more often than men, and Facebook’s by far the most common forum for harassment.

The poll, released by Rad Campaign, Lincoln Park Strategies and myself, shows that harassment’s a problem across populations, affecting 25% of all Americans. And when looking at folks under 35, the number shoots up to 47%. Rad Campaign’s taken the data and broken it up into an infographic.


Here’s some important findings from the poll:

  • Women report being personally harassed much more frequently than men – the gender gap’s 57% women to 43% men across all age groups.
  • Sexual harassment’s the most common form of harassment – 44% of all incidences), followed by:
    • Slurs on a person’s professional ability (28%),
    • Racial (23%),
    • Religious (18%),
    • and Political (16%) insults.
  • Surprisingly, the level of sexual harassment’s virtually identical between men (44%) and women (43%).
  • 62% of respondents who said they’d been harassed online said it happened on Facebook. And, Twitter came in second at 24%.
  • The poll found significant effects of the harassment, including people who said they were scared for their life (29% of those harassed) and were afraid to leave their house (20%).
  • More than 2/3 of those harassed online said they knew their harasser in real life. And in those under 35 , that number rose to 72%.

“Some people may think the Internet is a place where they can threaten people without consequences, but online harassment has horrifying real-life effects,” said Allyson Kapin, co-founder of Rad Campaign.

“These poll results show the need for effective responses to the problem at all levels.”

Strangely enough, the poll shows that in only 25% of cases users reported harassment to the social networks where it happened, yet the social networks themselves appear to react when called upon– in 61% of cases, according to the poll, the network shut down the offender’s account.

“The high levels of harassment reported by those under 35, show that this problem will likely continue to grow out of control if not addressed,” said Stefan Hankin, President of Lincoln Park Strategies. “The results from this poll, especially surrounding the long reaction times to reported cases of harassment, point to a need for the social media sites, law enforcement, and us as individuals to start taking this issue more seriously.”

And I agree, the first step toward dealing with unacceptable behavior, understand the problem, then we can get rid of it.

To view the rest of the findings, visit: The data and some solutions to the problem will also be discussed at the Personal Democracy Forum panel: Sex, Lies, and the Internet, beginning at 2pm ET on Thursday, June 6 with Allyson Kapin.

What works for you to stop online harassment, bullying, and threats? More to come…

These results are based on a survey of 1,007 Americans over 18 conducted online from May 20-22, 2014. Margin of error is approximately ±3.09% at the 95% confidence level.


4 thoughts on “New Poll Shows The Rise Of Online Harassment

  1. We can eliminate much of this issue with education. This post might be part of the solution:

    We need to also be sure that the remedy is not worse than the illness: we don’t want any solutions that stifle free expression. There is definitely a gray area to be concerned about: political, other groups and individuals might claim “harassment” when its actually a strong opinion in opposition.

    We must remember there are always those misguided among us who exploit controversy and tragedy for their own ego and material gains.


  2. I am being blackmailed by profiteering websites to pay hundreds of dollars to have the UNpublish a mugshot of me taken 10 years ago. The number if these kins of websites r growing everyday because they get these photos for free. The postings do not say if you r guilty or innocent. In my case I did not see a No Left Turn sign at midnight on a Friday night and was charged with DUI, fought the case and it was dismissed but these sites purposely do not tell the whole truth. I now have bad google. In the last three years I have gone to 59 job interviews, I have the credentials, then suddenly eliminated. Last year I was hired after a round of 3+ interviews in my field. Four days into the job I was fired because they called more in to ask ” how was I going to CLEANSE my internet presence”? I was happy to be able to tell them about these sites that profit by humiliating people and that I was not going to pay these unscrupulous offshore companies to taken down this horrible photo of me crying in an orange prison uniform when I was fingerprinted that night. ( I was horrified, having never been charges with anything my whole life). I showed them the court documents 10 years ago that say the case was dismissed. They fired me. And, my job has nothing to do with driving.
    So, do u think this is also a kind of online harassment?


    1. So sorry to hear this, Tracy. Sounds about right for the kinds of scammers I’ve run into. They think you are not a person, just a photo, so they don’t care. Best of luck!


  3. Please publish my email addy. I would like to hear your responses or go to my new website to comment.
    Tracy@ Or I want to find ways to help other people like me victimized by this and unable to get a job because of this. I have had to change my name.


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