Member Article

Almost 300% increase in harmful online content cases reported during pandemic

Report Harmful Content (RHC), a national and impartial online content dispute resolution service, announces the launch of its 2021 state-of-the-nation report: ‘Through These Walls’.

Central to this year’s findings, is the massive 292% increase in harmful content incidents reported, compared to the same period 2019/2020.

Through These Walls seeks to get to the heart of harmful content reporting over the past year, not only regarding harmful content proliferation during COVID-19 lockdown, but also public attitudes towards identifying and raising incidents with an official dispute resolution service.

The report offers a detailed look into the particular types of harmful content flagged, and a breakdown and analysis of the most common forms.

Across-the-board increases

  • From the unique reports logged during the pandemic, almost a third involved bullying and harassment, whilst a quarter highlighted pornography.
  • Impersonation, violent content and intimate image abuse were other repeat offenders, whilst associated complaints of ‘hate speech’ rose by 225%.
  • Overwhelmingly, 75% of domestic abuse reports were made by women and 54% were aged between 19-30.
  • A proportion also concerned malicious activity by a former, or current, intimate partner.

On a more positive note, of the reports logged with RHC, 90% of the content escalated to industry was successfully actioned and removed, indicating the right tools do exist to report and resolve these distressing events for victims.

Commenting on the findings, Report Harmful Content’s Manager Kathryn Tremlett, says, “Although the report indicates the web is still awash with harmful and inappropriate content, it is a positive sign public awareness around this important issue is increasing. Although these findings indicate an urgent need to better regulate online content and protect internet users, they also show that bodies like RHC are efficacious in giving redress for victims by getting these disputes raised and resolved.

She continues, “It will surprise no one that this is just the tip of a much larger iceberg, which needs more exposure. It’s our ongoing aim to offer a channel for the public to raise their concerns directly with industry, where legal routes don’t currently exist or reporting channels on platforms aren’t proving effective. COVID-19, and more time spent online, has thrown this into the spotlight, prompting the need for a wider discussion. As such, the UK Government’s recent Online Safety Bill represents a welcome opportunity to move the conversation on.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Archit Chopra .

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